For more than a century, the K-State Alumni Association has been serving Kansas State
University’s alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and students who make up the
Wildcat Community. Organized in 1874, the Alumni Association is a self-governed, 501(c)(3),
dues-based organization that is governed by a 29 member board of directors and a professional
staff of 33.
K-State alumni are among the most loyal in the nation and the Association is proud to rank No. 1 in the Big 12 Conference and No. 4 among the Power Five conferences nationally for the percentage of graduates who are members. The Alumni Association is proud to serve the Wildcat Community as their link for life to K-State.
During commencement week 1874, Kansas State Agricultural College alumni met in Manhattan's Presbyterian church against the wishes of then university President John Anderson. They envisioned what their new society would offer its members — one being a reunion banquet held every three years after graduation for all new and former graduates of the college. These triennial reunions were replaced by annual luncheons in 1910, and then by elaborate evening banquets for alumni, seniors and faculty starting in 1928.
As the number of graduates increased, so did the number of programs the Alumni Association directed. The group developed membership benefits. One program was sending copies of the school newspaper, The Industrialist, for one year after graduation and to all continuing active members of the Alumni Association.
The Alumni Association created formal structures with office space, full-time staff and elected board members. The staff contacted legislators to explain the needs of the college and to seek support for higher education, which is still an important role alumni play today.
By the 1950s, the organization looked more like today's Alumni Association. The K-Stater magazine was first published in 1951. The first Alumni Medallion was presented in 1969, leading the way for many other student, alumni and faculty awards.
The Alumni Association office moved from Anderson Hall in 1970 to Hollis House, sharing space with the Endowment Association (later known as the Kansas State University Foundation). About the same time, the Alumni Association launched the Traveling Wildcats program and established the Tradition Founders fund. By the end of the decade, the Alumni Association reinvigorated K-State Homecoming traditions and established the Student Ambassadors program, allowing two elected students to represent the student body at Alumni Association events throughout Kansas and at university activities.
The 1980s and 1990s also were important years for program development, including Alumni Fellows, Student Alumni Board, student recruitment, multicultural alumni programs, a website and the K-State License Plate program. Alumni staff offices also moved to the KSU Foundation Center on Anderson Avenue.
The dawn of a new millennium saw the launch of the Alumni Association’s e-newsletter, which now brings K-State news to more than 90,000 Wildcats around the world. Also, a successful fundraising campaign allowed the Alumni Association to build the K-State Alumni Center next to Memorial Stadium in 2002. This new building designated a space for the Memorabilia Room, which allows visitors to take a walk through K-State history by viewing nostalgic artifacts, vintage clothing and uniforms, university and athletic photos and much more.
The Alumni Center has been a welcoming place for alumni, university and community
events, as well as a stage where the Alumni Association has continued to grow, including
the establishment of the Wildcats Forever student alumni association in 2002 and —
thanks to the success of the K-State License Plate program — the launch of the Legacy
Scholarship program in 2009. The Alumni Association’s reach also extends beyond domestic
borders; there are 98 K-State alumni-related clubs in the U.S., and we have alumni
connections in 15 international locations.
The Alumni Association is ever-changing and yet continues to be the keeper of K-Stater traditions. It is certain the future will hold more exciting changes and programs for Wildcats everywhere.