Jon Wefald

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Jon Wefald
Jon Wefald.jpg
12th President
In office
July 1986 – June 14, 2009
Kansas State University

Jon Michael Wefald (b. November 24, 1937, in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American educator and served as the twelfth President of Kansas State University.

Biography[edit]

Wefald was born in Minneapolis and moved, at age six, with his family to Minot, North Dakota. After high school, he attended Pacific Lutheran University where he earned a B.A. in history in 1959. Wefald then earned his M.A. in history and political science from Washington State University in 1961, and Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1965.[1]

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

In 1965, Wefald returned to Minnesota, taking his first faculty position at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he taught history for five years. From 1971 to 1977, he served as Minnesota's Commissioner of Agriculture, and guest lectured. In 1977, he became President of Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. In 1982, he became a Chancellor of the six state university system of Minnesota.[2]

Kansas State University[edit]

In July 1986, Wefald began his service as president of Kansas State University. Wefald held the second-longest term of any Kansas State President, trailing only the 25-year tenure of James McCain. During his tenure at K-State, over 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of new buildings were built, private giving increased from $6 million a year to nearly $100 million a year, research funding increased from $18 million to $110 million a year, enrollment increased from 17,000 to 23,000, and, finally, K-State students won 125 Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholarships from 1986 to 2008[3]--more than any public university in America. [4]

Post-retirement[edit]

Wefald announced on May 12, 2008 that he would retire at the end of the 2008-2009 academic year.[2] Subsequently a routine audit performed by the Kansas Board of Regents determined that during Wefald's tenure a total of 13 undocumented payments had been made to former head football Coach Bill Snyder, former athletic director Tim Weiser and Bob Krause, a former vice president and athletic director at the university. Combined, these payments amounted to $845,000. Additionally, a plan was uncovered during the audit to "funnel more than $3 million in deferred compensation to former football coach Ron Prince." On May 20, 2009, Kansas State University and its athletic corporation filed suit to have a secret agreement between Prince and Krause declared invalid. Prince filed a lawsuit against the university which included the claim that Wefald and other high-ranking university officials had "actual or constructive knowledge" of the transaction.[5] In May 2011, the lawsuit was settled and Prince received $1.65 million.[6]

Wefald denied any knowledge of this secret transaction, attributed the discrepancies to Krause, and immediately called for Krause to resign as director of economic development for the K-State Olathe Innovation Campus, which he did effective on May 20, 2009.[7]

In June 2014, the Kansas Board of Regents approved Kansas State University's request [8] to name its new residence hall in Wefald's honor. Construction of the hall is scheduled to start in fall 2014. In approving the university's request, Regents Chair Fred Logan said, "I think if you look at higher education Kansas, he (Wefald) was, it's fair to say, a historic figure. He was a historic president." [9]

Honors[edit]

  • In 2002, Jon Wefald was honored by inclusion in the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame at the Norsk Høstfest. [10]
  • In 2002, Jon Wefald was honored as Distinguished Kansan by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.[11]
  • In 2009, Jon Wefald was named Kansan of the Year by the Kansas Society of Washington, D.C.[12]
  • In 2009, officials at Fort Leavenworth honored Jon Wefald with the Department of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. [13]

Footnotes[edit]