FHSU News

Dane G. Hansen Foundation makes $3-million grant commitment to FHSU students

Hansen Grant

02/04/15
Dane G. Hansen, a highly successful entrepreneur from Logan, made it his life-long mission to help others. His legacy continued today when a representative of his foundation announced an investment of $3 million in Fort Hays State University, its students and the economic vitality of western Kansas.

Hansen was born in 1883 in Logan, a community of about 600 located in Phillips County about 70 miles northwest of Hays. He was a dedicated young man, working with his parents in the mercantile business and then moving on to agriculture. Throughout his life, Hansen worked in the oil business and later got involved in politics. He had a personal interest in promoting education and helping young people succeed.

When Hansen passed away in 1965, he left a generous gift allowing for the establishment of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, with the primary goal of making the communities of northwest Kansas better places to live. Every year, the Hansen Foundation awards grants and scholarships to students who show a strong desire for community improvement -- all in honor of Hansen’s memory.

Cy Moyer of Phillipsburg, a foundation trustee, said the $3-million investment by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation would benefit FHSU students while also stimulating the economy of western Kansas.

"We have the easy job at the Hansen Foundation of giving out money," he said. "What comes after is the hard work. This proposed scholarship house to be built on the FHSU campus is a gift idea of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in cooperation with the university. It is to be dedicated to higher education that will foster leadership, entrepreneurial ideas and innovative business in northwest Kansas."

Moyer said Mr. Hansen knew that progress comes from new knowledge, which in turn comes from higher education. "It is the builder of tomorrow’s lives, businesses and communities," he said. "It is a known fact that knowledgeable people are innovative, entrepreneurial and leaders in their communities. With this concept in mind, it is the Hansen Foundation's desire to give students a rare opportunity to learn and develop a positive outlook when facing the future with pride and a sense of development in the rural area of Northwest Kansas.”

The funds will be used for the construction of a new residence on campus to be named the "Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Hall." This unique facility will create a living and learning environment aimed to foster development of entrepreneurs in northwest Kansas.

The facility will be located just east of a new 400-bed dormitory that will replace Wiest Hall. The new high-tech scholarship hall will house 33 residents, including a graduate assistant who will serve in a support role to the entrepreneurial students. The facility will include a community room equipped with the latest teaching and learning technologies, as well as innovative spaces that stimulate teamwork. It will also provide an incubator environment for student-based start-up businesses. The target date for construction is to have the new hall open for the beginning of the 2016 fall semester.

Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president, introduced Moyer and later commented on the relationship between the Hansen Foundation and the university.

"This gift is special to us and we really do appreciate it," the president said. "It will have a tremendous impact on our students."

President Martin said the gift was another sign of the partnership that has existed between FHSU and Hansen for many years, with a strong commitment to the development of northwest Kansas. "The future of our quarter of the state depends upon our ability to grow job opportunities with high-quality workers who can cement the historic foundations of our cherished communities and the rural areas. This is another step in a growing and maturing relationship between the Hansen Foundation and Fort Hays State to build a bright future for our part of the state."

Unlike traditional student living environments, the Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Hall will be an integrated living and learning environment with established learning goals, specified academic curriculum and entrepreneurial extracurricular activities. Students will apply and may be selected from any academic major. Their commonality will be a desire to learn more about entrepreneurship and to potentially start their own business. They will be mentored by FHSU faculty and with successful entrepreneurs. They will be linked with local, regional and state economic development resources and participate in activities ranging from tours of innovative and startup businesses to business plan and 3-D prototype development. The end goal is that the residents are prepared to create business startups -- whether they do so as students or later in life after gaining work experience.

Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the FHSU College of Business and Entrepreneurship, pointed out that he and his three brothers had all been Hansen Scholars. He said: "This scholarship hall will be unique nationally. The Dane G. Hansen Foundation’s support will amplify the current entrepreneurship activities of FHSU. These include an academic certificate open to all students, a minor and a new concentration in the management degree. The university’s Entrepreneur Direct lecture series has become well known, as has its successful KansasStartup entrepreneurship weekends."

Bannister added: "Too many universities design their classes to prepare students to work in Fortune 500 companies located in a select number of urban areas. FHSU has some students who will decide to follow that career route, but statistics show that most of our graduates remain in Kansas. Others may return to Kansas and northwest Kansas after working elsewhere. We want these students to be equipped to help their employers become entrepreneurial and to be prepared to start and operate their own businesses. A nationally unique entrepreneurship scholarship hall will be extremely powerful in boosting our efforts."

Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation, pointed out that the Dane G. Hansen Foundation was the largest lifetime donor to the FHSU Foundation, and he said today's gift was the second-largest gift made to FHSU from one single entity in the university's history.

The Fort Hays State University Foundation is the fundraising arm of FHSU. To learn more about how you can make a difference for Fort Hays State and its Tiger students, visit foundation.fhsu.edu.

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