Curtis, Renee Longpine give $100,000 to FHSU's Journey Campaign

11/16/17 hb/kb

HAYS, Kan. – A Hays couple announced at a news conference today a gift of $100,000 to Fort Hays State University’s Journey Campaign. Curtis and Renee Longpines’ gift will support three specific funds through the Fort Hays State University Foundation.

The largest part, 60 percent, is designated for scholarships to go on in perpetuity for FHSU’s Geology Field Camp, an integrative geosciences capstone course involving a broad range of applied field techniques and procedures. Sites are in such places as Colorado’s Dinosaur National Park, the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and the San Rafael Swell of Utah.

FHSU Foundation President and CEO Jason Williby began the news conference with an update on the Journey Campaign.

“Most of you know we are about a year and a half into our Journey Campaign, an effort to raise $100 million dollars in support of Fort Hays State University,” he said. “Today I can tell you that, thanks to the gift we are going to announce, we have crossed over the $56 million mark.”

He said the Longpines’ gift exemplifies the goals of the campaign. “It allows Curt and Renee to reflect back on their long history at Fort Hays State and impact the things that they care about the most. I urge others to experience the joy of giving just as Curtis and Renee are experiencing today.”

For Curtis Longpine, who earned a bachelor’s in geology from FHSU and is co-owner of DaMar Resources in Hays, an area close to his heart is the Geology Field Camp. He knows how crucial it is to students. 

“Field Camp provided me the opportunity to put most of the components of my education to use, all at the same time,” said Longpine. “It also provided a deeper understanding of geology and the thinking process in general. In my day, most Field Camp expenses were covered by the school. Today, due to budget cuts, a good bit of the expense falls on the shoulders of the students. Students come to Fort Hays State to invest in their future, and we want to help them with that investment.”

“Field camp is our six-credit, required capstone course,” said Dr. Ken Neuhauser, professor of geosciences and co-director of the field camp. “This is a final exam of four years of book work.” In the field, students conduct individual and team projects, mapping and collection samples.

“You have to get out in the dirt, and the mud, and the bugs, and the cold, and all those things that they have to deal with daily,” said Neuhauser.

The camp is not optional, said Neuhauser, and the cost for the camp is approximately $2,000 for each student, covering tuition, camping fees and equipment, and the Longpines’ gift makes the experience possible. One recent graduate provided a testimonial.

Zach VonLintel, Victoria, graduated with a B.S. in geology in spring 2017. His field camp was in the summer of 2016.

“It doesn’t just teach you school related and geology related things,” he said. “It really motivates you because you’re staying up late every night, you’re working hard and you think you’re never going to get this over with. But then once you put the pieces together, and you really figure out what’s going on, step back and look at what you’ve created, you think, ‘I can do anything.’ ”

“Without their financial donations,” he said, nodding toward the Longpines, “I might not have been able to go. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go. … I can never thank them enough for what they’ve done for me. I only hope that one day I can pay it forward to future students at Fort Hays State just as you have done today.”

The Longpines split the remainder of their gift between the President’s Venture Fund and the Foundation’s Unrestricted Fund. The President’s Venture Fund is used by the FHSU president to present awards, form and build relationships, entertain, and supplement operational needs. The Longpines wish to augment the funds available to the new president of Fort Hays State University, Dr. Tisa Mason.

The Unrestricted Fund is reserved for what are deemed by the Foundation and the university as the greatest needs.

“I have developed the confidence and trust that my funds, as well as yours, will be responsibly deployed by the Foundation. We are therefore designating a portion of this gift to unrestricted funds, and we trust the Foundation to utilize these funds as they see fit,” said Longpine.

Dr. Andy Tompkins, interim president of Fort Hays State, directed the attention of the audience to what Longpine said: “I want to try to help this. I want to try to help this. I want to try to help this.”

“I keep thinking this is what citizenry is about,” said Tompkins. He reflected on how earlier generations, the Longpines’ and his own, students enjoyed much more support from public education institutions such as Fort Hays State, and the direct cost to students was much less. That, he said, has been reversed to a large extent.

“It has become even more important for us to see the importance of the greater good, and the importance of giving back, and giving to things we know make a difference in other peoples’ lives. So we’re grateful not only for the gift but for the givers and for the message that you’ve given us about giving. So I want to say thanks for that, too.”

To learn more about the FHSU Foundation and the Journey Campaign, please visit http://foundation.fhsu.edu/, call 785-628-5620 or emailfoundation@fhsu.edu.

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