March 05, 2012 12:00AM
“Much of who I am is because of this special place.”
With those words, Ed McKechnie, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents and a 1986 graduate of Pittsburg State University, summed up the influence of many faculty, administrators and staff on his life and career.
McKechnie delivered the keynote address at PSU’s 105th Apple Day convocation where he reflected on the faculty and staff who helped shape his life. McKechnie recalled some of the people who encouraged and mentored him, naming a number of faculty and administrators who influenced him both as a student and later in his career.
He noted his long association with the university, which began when he was a first-grade student at Horace Mann Elementary, a laboratory school on campus. That association continued through his college years, during which he was active on campus and served as editor of the student newspaper, The Collegio.
McKechnie offered advice to the current crop of Pitt State students and shared his thoughts about the future for Pittsburg State and higher education overall.
McKechnie’s advice was simple, beginning with “Get out of bed in the morning. Start every day anew and don’t fixate on the bad days. Every morning, you have the opportunity to make your day positive.” He urged the students to “make good choices and value long-term relationships.”
McKechnie told the students that the world has changed. “The day of average is over,” he said.
Quoting statistics that painted a dramatic difference in unemployment rates between college graduates and those with only a high school diploma, McKechnie reinforced the role that high education will play in the future.
“This is the first time in our nation’s history that the less educated employees have not led the way out of recession,” McKechnie said.
McKechnie said the Kansas Board of Regents will lead a new initiative on excellence this year. Foresight 2020 will have three basic themes, he said. Those are: greater access to post-secondary education, making sure universities are graduating students who are entering the workforce, and higher aspirations for the state’s universities.
“America’s future and the future of Pittsburg State is excellence,” he said.
In addition to the keynote address, the convocation also included recognition of this year’s Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award recipients, Dr. Donald M. Holsinger, and Don Smith; the announcement of the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Award winners; and recognition of the Golden Gorilla Student Leadership Award winners.
This year’s Outstanding Faculty are: Dr. Craig Fuchs, director of the Honors College and a member of the faculty in the Department of Music; Dr. Paul McCallum, a professor in the Department of English; and Dr. Grant Moss, an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.