Alumni gifts ensure professor's memory lives on


Geology students form 'KSU' atop Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park on a trip funded by the Beck Field Geology Fund.

Truly outstanding professors do more than teach — they inspire their students. Geology professor Henry Beck was one of those extraordinary teachers and his inspirational teaching will extend beyond the classroom, thanks to a fund established in his honor.

After Beck passed away in 1986, former students started the fund to commemorate him and continue the tradition of field exploration he emphasized so strongly during more than three decades of teaching.

Gene Ratcliff, of Edmond, Okla., was Beck's student in 1955, when firsthand exposure to western rock formations required teaming up with other universities. Ratcliff recalls spending six weeks that summer with fellow students under Beck's leadership, improving primitive grounds in Beulah, Colo., that would serve for many years as K-State's very own geology field camp.

"Henry's attitude was the more rocks you could see as a geologist, the better off you would be. I later realized he spent a lot of time and money to help us," said Ratcliff, who recently made a planned gift to benefit the Henry V. Beck Field Geology Fund.

In recent years, K-State geology students have taken field expeditions to Yellowstone National Park and Death Valley National Park — largely with help from the Beck Fund. It was exactly the sort of purpose Ratcliff envisioned when he supported the fund with matching donations from former employer Kerr-McGee Corporation, coupled with a bequest in his trust.

"I thought about a scholarship, but felt Henry deserved more," Ratcliff said. "I can't emphasize how much of a teacher he was."

Honor someone who changed your life
A bequest in a will or trust is one of the most common ways to support K-State and honor a friend or relative who made a difference in the world. To learn more about this opportunity, please contact your Gift Planning team at 785-775-2000 or