FHSU News

Richard, Dolores Fischli give $5 million toward Center for Student Success at Fort Hays State

Foundation - Fischl 2013

05/02/17
By Hayley Bieker
FHSU Foundation
HAYS, Kan. -- When Richard Fischli purchased a hog at the age of 14, he likely couldn’t imagine what his first investment would lead to over time. Fischli and, later, his wife, Dolores Wills-Fischli, worked hard to build upon that initial investment.

Both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fort Hays State University in the 1950s, then moved to southern California. Upon retiring from their careers in education with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Fischlis moved back home to Logan.

The couple continues to make sure students have what they need to be successful. Long-time supporters of their alma mater and the benefactors of several scholarship funds at FHSU, the couple recently committed $5 million to build a center for student success on the university campus. Their gift was announced at a news conference today.

In essence, the Fischlis are passing their hog onto their alma mater. “We are recognizing this couple for literally changing the landscape of our campus with the naming of the future Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success,” said Tim Chapman, president and CEO emeritus of the FHSU Foundation.

With an estimated completion date of December 2020, the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success will be a convenient one-stop-shop for students to access academic, medical and mental health support. The center’s primary goal is to help students be successful, complete their degree programs on time and avoid falling through the cracks in any way.

“As lifelong K-12 educators, Richard and Dolores have been difference-makers to literally hundreds of students over the years utilizing their FHSU degrees to their fullest potential,” said Joey Linn, vice president for student affairs.

“With the addition of this building to our beautiful campus, the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success will forever touch the lives of thousands of students with their quest to walk across the stage as FHSU graduates,” he said.

The center will combine key services into a three-story building conveniently attached to the Memorial Union. All students will have day and evening access to much-needed services such as academic advising, career exploration, free tutoring, the Kelly Center and student health. Additionally, the offices of Student Government Association, the Center for Student Involvement and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will relocate to the Fischli-Wills Center.

“The ultimate goal of this innovative center is to increase retention and graduation rates and to make all students successful in their academic journey,” said Linn.

“These students are our family,” Dolores Fischli said after the news conference.

“We always knew that our estate would go to Fort Hays State University, but I often wondered what they were going to do with it,” she said. “It’s nice to know how they’re going to utilize the money and to see it all come to fruition. We’re just so thankful for the opportunity.”

One student on hand to attest to the benefit of the center was Emily Brandt, Beloit senior and president of the Student Government Association.

“As a first-generation student with one more year left, I feel like I am just now starting to understand how to navigate my undergraduate career,” she said. “With extended hours for services such as career exploration and academic advising, our students are getting the help they need to be successful not just here, but after their graduation date.”

Brandt described the center as a collaborative effort of private donors, the university administration, academic affairs and students, who voted in April to add a $4 per credit hour fee, effective beginning the fall semester of 2019, to support building the center. The fee will raise an estimated $5.6 million. The new facility is expected to cost $16.5 million.

The Fischlis’ journey with Fort Hays State University started with two rural Kansas kids pursuing college educations. They transitioned into a couple modestly giving back to FHSU with their earliest contribution on file showing a $5 gift in 1981. The Fischlis are now philanthropists designating a portion of their estate to support the needs of students.

The Fischlis are part of the Wooster Society, an elite group of planned-gift benefactors to Fort Hays State.

“Wooster Society members like Richard and Dolores have an everlasting effect on Fort Hays State as their generosity will be remembered and appreciated,” said Jason Williby, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. “This is an incredible gift in support of FHSU’s Journey campaign, and one that will go down in the history of Fort Hays State University.”

“This gift helps us join a select few universities across the country to provide a comprehensive approach to student recruitment, support, retention and completion that will enable Fort Hays State to continue to thrive in service to our students,” said Dr. Andy Tompkins, interim president of FHSU.

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

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