PHOTOS BY LAURYN DAVIS
STORY BY DANIEL SAENZ
Thursday, April 11th, 2019 will go down as a historic day for Fort Hays State University. On this day, both the Department of Arts and Music and the Athletics Department received its most generous donation ever. Earl and Nonie Field, FHSU graduates and long-time members of the Wooster Society, designated the FHSU Foundation as beneficiaries before Nonie passed away in 2009. Earl later passed in 2013. At the time of Earl’s death, their estate gift to Fort Hays State was estimated to be worth around 20 million dollars making it the largest donation in school history.
As requested by the Fields, Earl shared his portion of the estate with FHSU Athletics, while Nonie decided to share her estate on Arts and Music. The money will not be spent immediately, but it will be invested. It will be endowed and will partially be used to finance scholarships.
Jason Williby, CEO of the FHSU Foundation, joked, “Some students are already receiving, but one hundred years from now, God bless us if Fort Hays is still here in 250 years, these scholarships will still be awarded.”
Dr. Edward Hammond of Fort Hays State took the stage to tell the story of Nonie and Earl Field and how it relates to this gift. Dr. Hammond painted a vivid picture of Earl’s frugality, hard work, and kindness.
“He was very proud of the university, but the thing he was most proud of was not the new buildings and not the growth, but he was most proud of the fact that we tried to keep the costs down so students could come to school here,” Hammond said. “That meant the most to him and you can see it in how he gave his money. He wanted his students to benefit from his success.”
He also mentioned that Nonie herself was a musician who loved to attend the musicals and plays on campus. And for that very reason, her share went to support students of Music and the Arts. Adam Flack, a senior from Hays finishing his degree in music education took the stage to speak on behalf of the Department of Music and Theater.
“Because of this, I was allowed to grow up in a community that holds music and the arts in high esteem,” Flack said.
He then described how music and theater had a substantial presence on the Fort Hays campus from the plays and musicals in Malloy Hall, as well as the regular concerts in Beach Schmidt. The marching band is everywhere at sporting events and can be heard practicing outside almost every day. He also went on to describe just how much such a generous donation would benefit students of music and the arts. It would allow them to cultivate their talents without much of the financial worries that normally accompanies people pursuing these fields.
“It means that students in music and theater can pursue those degrees without so much of a burden of the financial aspect,” Flack said.
For these reasons stated above, FHSU students should all be grateful to the donations of Earl and Nonie Field, regardless of their field of study.