Construction alumni raise and award more than $1 million in scholarships for Construction students 

A milestone has been reached: since an alumni-driven fundraising effort began in 1988, more than $1 million in scholarships has been given to students in the School of Construction at Pittsburg State University to help them stay on track to graduation and their dream of entering the construction profession. 

During the Nov. 11 football game at Carnie-Smith Stadium, the School of Construction Alumni Association presented the latest fundraising effort: a ceremonial check representing $170,000, bringing the total raised since 1988 to more than $1.6 million.  

This year, more than 100 students will receive scholarships totaling more than $102,000. 

The funds are raised at annual golf tournaments in Kansas City, Wichita, and Pittsburg, and at sporting clay events in Kansas City and Wichita, led by the association. 

Longtime Construction professor Jim Otter said the scholarships originally were targeted to seniors as a way to help them get through their final year and to get their first job. Now, they’re open to all. 

“They help many of our working-class students who are trying to pay for their college through work and scholarships with the least amount of loans,” he said. “Many of our students are from small towns with rural or farming backgrounds. So, they are working, going to college, and trying to survive. Every chance our students have to minimize college debt puts them ahead in life.” 

Dan West, a 2015 graduate who is now a project manager with McCownGordon, clearly remembers interviewing for such a scholarship when he was at Pitt State. 

“I remember describing how I was the typical broke college kid just trying to afford everything and get to graduation so I could get into the construction field and start making some money,” he said. “I could tell the folks in the interview room knew how much any scholarship amount helps as a college student.” 

When he got his dream job, he made it a point to give back and be an active part of the association. 

“I won’t forget the impact that scholarship had on me and the amount of respect I gained for the School of Construction with how they gave back to their students and wanted them to find success. Knowing I now play a part in helping current students in the program is a great feeling.” 

Construction check

President Dan Shipp was joined by SOC Director Don Colegrove and several alumni including: Jim Otter, Joe Levens, Erin Jordan, and Chad Crain who are now faculty in the SOC; and Larry Weis (retired), Scott Casebolt (Key Construction), Dan West (McCown-Gordon), and Luke Brand (Conco Construction). 

Learn more about the School of Construction at 

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