It was the end of an era this summer at Kansas State University Salina with the retirement of Greg Stephens, the last remaining faculty member who was part of the campus when it was the Kansas College of Technology. The college merged with K-State in 1991, and many of its faculty at that time were hired by the university.
The campus has transformed many times over the years. Originally starting as the Schilling Air force Base and then, after the base closed, becoming known for aviation and technology higher education. The first educational facility was Schilling Institute, then Kansas Technical Institute, Kansas College of Technology and finally Kansas State University Salina.
Stephens, associate professor emeritus, started his career on the campus in 1981. At that time, he thought he would only be in his position for a few years, but the constant introduction of new ideas and opportunities kept him on campus for 40 years or 120 semesters consecutively. His teaching focus was management, business and public speaking courses.
Stephens had an important role during the merger. He was the faculty chair and led the campus faculty campaign.
“Initially, this was not a popular position, but we collaborated with K-State leadership, the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and state legislators in Topeka to help provide input on legislation to ensure the college and campus remain in Salina in the future,” he said.
During his time on campus, Stephens created and facilitated 36 Civic Luncheon lectures to increase community exposure and promote diversity. Outside of the classroom, he enjoyed consulting in industry and agriculture and serving on local, regional and national boards.
As Stephens closed out his chapter on campus, he expressed his appreciation of the collegiate atmosphere and values of lifelong learning and noted that the one thing that never changed in 40 years was the faculty’s dedication to students and teaching. He also is proud to leave a campus where enrollment, student diversity and support systems are growing as the campus works to become a global leader in aerospace and technology.
During his retirement, he is looking forward to catching up on unfinished projects, starting new ones, reading more and visiting more often with old friends.