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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University


Mary and Ross Stryker live in Lebanon, Mo., with their cairn terriers, Ozzie and Munchkin.

For Ross and Mary Stryker, life is about surprises.

"It's just funny how the little twists and turns take you down an unexpected path," Ross says. "The unexpected is what's fun about life."

But when it comes to their legacy, the Lebanon, Mo., couple will leave nothing to chance. Both 1978 K-State alumni, they are planning ahead with gifts in their wills to reinforce their top three priorities on campus. Ultimately, the decision centered around two simple questions.

"What was your life about? Did you impact people?" Ross asks.

"I want to touch people in generations we'll never see," he adds. "I want to choose where my money goes. The neat thing about the KSU Foundation is you can literally designate exactly how you want that money utilized. You have control over it, even after you're gone."

Covering their top three priorities

1. Military family initiatives

The first funding choice was obvious for the Strykers. With a 12-year history in the Army and a current orthodontics practice serving largely military clientele, they felt compelled to fund military family initiatives in the College of Human Ecology.

The Ross and Mary Stryker Military Families Excellence Fund will broadly impact a range of disciplines through the college's nationally recognized Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families. The institute coordinates workshops, clinical programs, research and education to engage and serve military families now and into the future.

"Any time we get affirmation of the work we're doing at the institute, it's fabulous, but more importantly, this gift recognizes the needs of military families," says Briana Nelson Goff, director of the institute and professor of Family Studies and Human Services. "This is a group that really merits these kinds of programs."

As daily firsthand observers of modern military family life, the Strykers couldn't agree more.

"We witness every day in our office the sacrifice these military families make," Ross says. "It's just neat to hear their stories, and unfortunately we've had several tragedies, too. Anything we can do for the military, it's the least we can do."

2. Student athletes

With a second fund designated for K-State Athletics' Academic Learning Services Office, the Strykers will support student athletes, particularly those returning to college to finish degrees.

"We wanted them to be able to look back and know they got everything they needed out of K-State," Ross says.

The gift also allows Ross to honor a deep tradition in his family, where everyone always came together for K-State game day.

"He's got a 94-year-old mother who still watches all the games," Mary says. "I'll be on the phone and she'll remind me when the games are on."

3. Animals


The Strykers' third gift will align with one of their lifelong passions-helping animals. As longtime cairn terrier owners, the couple created a local society to subsidize veterinary care for pets in need and will now fund spay and neuter educational outreach through the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Together the three gifts will make a tremendous impact across campus, and the full extent of that impact may unfold in unexpected ways. But after all, as the Strykers say, therein lies the fun.

Start crafting your legacy

Contact the Gift Planning team at 785-532-6266 or to discuss your options.