Pioneer in innovative care for the elderly announces gifts to Fort Hays State


HAYS, Kan. — A pioneer in developing home-style living for the elderly has made three separate gifts to support Fort Hays State University. The gifts were announced in a news conference today in the Dreiling Lobby of Sheridan Hall on the university campus.

Steve Shields, a Manhattan resident who attended Fort Hays State University from 1974 to 1976 and is an emeritus member of the FHSU Foundation Board of Trustees, is an internationally recognized specialist in the world of senior living. Shields pioneered the “household model,” which transforms institutional nursing homes into comfortable houses that provide an ideal living condition for elders.

Shields’ gifts include:
·        $30,000 to the FHSU Foundation in support of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at Fort Hays State;
·        $20,000 in support of FHSU’s nursing program; and
·        A deferred commitment to the Department of Art and Design.

“It is people like Steve who help make Fort Hays State the destination of choice for our people of excellence. Whether it is the student seeking to learn from our programs of distinction, or the faculty and staff who wish to impart knowledge, support and encouragement, these individuals come to Fort Hays State because they want to use their abilities and talents in our community, our state, our nation and the world,” said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president.

“Steve has generously supported Fort Hays State throughout the years. He is passionate about giving others opportunities he did not have. He is an exceptional example of all that is great in philanthropists,” she said. “He gives because that’s what is in his heart. I am so very thankful his heart is helping the next generation of leaders at Fort Hays State. He’s making a difference.”

A sought-after keynote speaker and workshop presenter on leadership and transformation in senior living and hospital care, Shields is a visionary whose contributions have benefitted FHSU for many years.

“I am really pleased to have rekindled the relationship with Fort Hays State I had in the ’70s,” said Shields. “Those two years I spent here were absolutely formative for me. There is something about Fort Hays State that hits me.” He said that he thinks that academic environments are “becoming increasingly laden with internal bureaucracies” but that “Fort Hays State is different.”

He commended FHSU on its progressive efforts in getting students involved in civic activities as part of their curriculum, and he talked about his experience as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon while attending FHSU. “I learned about relationships you make with people who have a joint purpose,” he said, adding that civic engagement is still a big part of education at FHSU. “You can taste it, you can feel it, you can smell it,” he said. “It’s not just about the education. It’s about citizenship.”

He said FHSU’s brand of “World Ready” is not just a fancy tagline, saying that what students take with them from Fort Hays State — such as social skills, people skills, technology skills, “the readiness to be of service” — will take them far.

In mentioning his gift to the art department, which will be an endowed gift, not available until his passing, he asked: “Do you know how good your art department is here? You leave everybody in the dust in the entire Midwest.” He then added of the delayed gift, “I leave it with pride, but hopefully you’re not going to get it for awhile.”

Dr. Jeff Briggs, dean of the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, spoke on the benefit to the Department of Nursing and its influential role in Shields’ career path.

“Steve Shields’ career has been defined by his caring about the wellbeing of others, with a special commitment to the elderly,” said Briggs, who noted that when Shields speaks about his work for the elderly at events and conferences, there is not a dry eye in the house. “This generous gift will allow us to build out our simulation activities in the Department of Nursing, with a special emphasis on simulation space dedicated to developing skills and competencies in the care of older adults.”

FHSU students will benefit greatly from the gifts. “On behalf of the students and Tiger family, I would like to thank Steve for his generosity towards the FHSU community and the Kansas Zeta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon,” said Brandon Taylor, a Greensburg graduate student who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration. Taylor noted that he had personally received more than $8,000 in scholarships during his time at Fort Hays State. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for kind-hearted individuals like Steve.”

Tim Chapman, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation, sought out his friend Steve Shields for advice nine years ago when he was considering making the move to Fort Hays State. “He told me, ‘Tim, make a commitment to make a change, and you will.'”

Chapman added: “Steve’s love and loyalty for the arts, his fraternity and long-term care, through the nursing program at FHSU, have and will continue to benefit students in perpetuity. His support of scholarship and departmental needs has, and will, change lives. I thank Steve for all he does, for his passion of life, and for being a friend to FHSU and to me personally.”

Shields is the founding CEO and chair of Kinmundy Ralston Corp., Milwaukee, and is CEO and principal of Action Pact Development LLC, an international company with offices in Manhattan, Kan., Atlanta and Milwaukee, that specializes in organizational and strategic planning, architectural design and construction, financial forecasting, and project development for the senior-living service sector.

From 1994 until January of this year, he was CEO and president of Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community, Manhattan, which grew from a $3 million to a $60 million company and became an internationally known senior-living provider that initiated and then shaped the household model into reality.

Shields conducted a two-year international speaking tour in 28 states and abroad to communicate the need for change in long-term care. He has been featured on CBS, the Public Broadcasting System, and in the national video series of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is co-author of the book, “In Pursuit of the Sunbeam: A Practical Guide to Transformation from Institution to Household,” which has sold in all 50 states and numerous foreign countries.

Shields is a founder of the Pioneer Network of Rochester, N.Y., a network formed in 1997 to advocate for “person-directed care” of the elderly.

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