MANHATTAN (KSNT) – If one word could describe how Richard Myers feels about Kansas State, it would be vibrant. That’s what he said he’s going to miss the most when he retires as President of the University in the new year.
“It’s bittersweet, I just hate leaving the vibrancy of this campus,” Myers said. “I just keep thinking what’s going to replace that in my life.”
He’s accomplished a whole lot since 2016 as the 14th President.
“Philanthropy was a big goal. When I became President the goal was a billion-dollar campaign they said, ‘Well, Myers maybe you can help us in the campaign,’ and so they raised the goal to $1.4 billion, and just last year we closed out at $1.6 billion,” he said.
Before being president at K-State, he was a four-star general in the Air Force, also serving as the principal military adviser to former President George W. Bush.
“I didn’t find it all that different to be honest,” Myers said. “I mean it’s a little harder to get 30,000 people in align, between students, staff, faculty, alumni, getting them all aligned, a little easier in the military, but the processes aren’t that different.”
That experience though, helped him navigate some challenging times at K-State. Administration tackled a number of racially-motivated incidents over the course of several years. Students then called for more diversity and equality on campus.
“We’re a welcoming campus, come join us, come make us better,” he said. “We provide a really good environment here and I’m glad they’re [students] not satisfied because we need to keep challenging ourselves to find out if there’s anything in these policies to see if anything can be discriminatory.”
And he led the university through one of the most challenging periods for higher education in American history: coronavirus.
“Handling the pandemic is one thing, putting the team together and handling that but using that as a springboard and moving toward the future is what we’ve tried to do,” Myers said.
It’s a lesson to be improved upon for the future. He says he’ll sure miss being in the thick of it.
“This place keeps you young, if you’re going to stay up with the crowd you got to be on your toes,” he said.
But, he’s got grandkids to keep him young now too.