A new Center for Student Success is coming to life on the campus of Fort Hays State University, thanks in part to the support of generous alumni and donors.
The Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success was strategically designed with a one-stop shop approach. This is an opportunity for FHSU to enhance all areas of student health – mind, body and soul.
The first floor will welcome new students to campus and will concentrate on academic and career support. The second floor is intentionally designed to provide experiential opportunities that will develop engaged global citizen-leaders. The third floor was designed to keep students healthy through preventative education, and physical and mental health care services.
By attaching the new three-story facility to the Memorial Union, Fort Hays State will be able to provide access to students beyond normal operating hours. Walking over a glass-covered bridge between the Memorial Union and the center, students will enter a space designed specifically for their success.
Powered by philanthropy, the new facility would not have been possible without the generous support of alumni and donors. The building is named in honor of Richard Fischli and Dolores Wills-Fischli, whose journey with Fort Hays State began with two rural Kansas kids pursuing a college education. Richard and Dolores both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FHSU in the 1950s, then moved to southern California. Upon retiring from their careers in education with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Fischlis moved back home to Logan, a small community in Phillips County in north central Kansas.
As lifelong K-12 educators, Richard and Dolores made an impact on thousands of students throughout their careers. Beyond the classroom, the Fischlis were known for giving what they could and truly understood the impact that every dollar had on student success. In 1981, they started giving back to Fort Hays State with an initial gift of $5. Today, this stunning new facility is becoming a reality thanks to a $5 million gift from the late Richard and Dolores Fischli. Although the generous couple is no longer with us, their legacy of impacting students will continue to live on.
A number of other generous alumni and donors have stepped forward and named a space within the new center.
FHSU donor Robert Kurr knew the center would be a tremendous addition to Fort Hays State’s campus and has generously donated to name two spaces within the facility. “Upon hearing the purpose and location of this new building, the FHSU Tiger within me became very motivated to join in and help move the project forward.”
A passion for helping others to be successful is what led the Olliff family to support the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success. The Olliffs’ donation will give them the opportunity to name the Kelly Center space.
The late Darel Olliff and his wife, Shirley, were in the funeral home business in Phillips County for many years as third-generation funeral directors. While serving many people during the struggles of losing a loved one, Darel developed a passion for emotional and mental health.
Their son, Dr. Kenton Olliff, is an associate professor of Advanced Education Programs at Fort Hays State. He previously served as FHSU’s assistant vice president for student affairs, as well as Director of the Kelly Center, and shares the same passion for helping others to be successful, especially students. His wife, Carol Solko-Olliff, served as FHSU’s Coordinator of Accessibility Services in the Kelly Center prior to her current position on campus.
“The Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success will be a wonderful addition to Fort Hays State University,” Kenton and Carol shared. “The services will assist students in many ways, helping them to be successful while at the university and beyond. Because of this mission, we thought donating to the facility by naming the “Kelly Center” space would be a wonderful legacy to Darel and Shirley Olliff and the entire Olliff family.”
Adjacent to the Kelly Center on the third floor of the facility is a reception area, named by Fort Hays State supporters Preston and Judy Caprez. Preston has three degrees from FHSU. Judy is a retired FHSU professor who spent 23 years with the Department of Social Work, the last several as director before her retirement. Their children, Dr. Cassanda Caprez Davis and Dr. Adam Caprez, are both FHSU graduates.
It is fitting that the reception area for the Kelly Center be named on behalf of Judy and also Dr. Viola Caprez Ames, Preston’s aunt. Viola was a personal friend of Dr. George Kelly, namesake of FHSU’s Kelly Center, while both were at Fort Hays State many years ago. Preston and Judy said their decision to support the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success was an easy one, and they hope their support will help ensure mental health services for present and future FHSU students.
“Some of the most exciting things we can do as supporters of Fort Hays State University is to help students to be healthy and successful and to graduate on time,” said Dr. Joey Linn, FHSU vice president for Student Affairs. “Increasing retention and graduation rates is a top priority for colleges across the country. The Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success will provide wrap-around services to all students, helping them to achieve their educational goals.”
Linn added that “Fort Hays State University has long been known as an innovator in student success. Our students need a center like this – it’s a further commitment that we want to see them cross the stage at commencement.”
Donors have the unique opportunity to join Fort Hays State in empowering each student to attain their degree. A wide variety of naming options are available throughout the facility – first come, first served. To learn more, visit https://foundation.fhsu.edu/impact/campus-updates or contact Mary Hammond with the FHSU Foundation at 785-628-5620 or [email protected].
All gifts to FHSU, including those to name a space in the center, contribute to FHSU’s current Journey campaign. We hope others will be a part of the journey and consider contributing to this unique facility. Other alumni and donors who have already named a space within FHSU’s new Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success are: Jill and Mike Arensdorf; Griffin Family (Kellen and Quillen Griffin, Stan and Neva Griffin, Thayne and Kristen Griffin, Mark and Patricia Griffin); Dennis and Melanie King; and Taylor and Luke Kriley.