MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNW) – Former Kansas State University (K-State) President, Dr. Jon Wefald, died of a heart attack on Saturday, April 16. He was 84-years-old.
According to the K-State Collegian, Wefald was the president of K-State for 23 years, from 1986 to 2009. This is the second-longest tenure for a K-State president. The longest term was served by James McCain, exceeding Welfald’s by two years.
During Welfald’s tenure, enrollment grew nearly 50% and 2.2 million square feet of new buildings were added.
Wefald’s name is also a part of Wefald Hall, the newest K-State dorm building in the Kramer Dining Complex. In addition, his name, along with his wife’s name, is a part of the Jon and Ruth Ann Wefald Pavillion in Manhattan’s City Park.
Funeral services are pending and information will be available at a later date.
The K-State Family is deeply saddened to learn of former K-State President Jon Wefald’s passing. Dr. Wefald’s legacy is one of transformation, growth and a true passion for our great university. Our condolences and thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.K-State President Richard Linton
Other K-State current and past leaders offered their condolences:
Jon was not only a very special leader of Kansas State University but also a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend. Jon was a major part of the reason we came to Manhattan. He was always so very determined to assist our program and all other programs — athletic and academic — to become the very best they could be. He and his wife, Ruth Ann, cared about people – students, faculty, staff and community — and were always seeking ways to be of help. Their commitment to the university is unparalleled. Sharon, Sean and I and our family are grateful to Jon for so strongly supporting our time here.”Bill Snyder, former head football coach
“Jon Wefald led an impressive campaign that increased the number of endowed professorships and university distinguished professors at our university. His vision enhanced the university’s academic and research profile through these efforts, which also provided new opportunities for our students through access to some of the top minds in academia. His contributions have truly laid the path for K-State as the nation’s premier next-generation land-grant university.”Chuck Taber, provost and executive vice president
“President Wefald moved our school from very good to great, but most importantly, he made us relevant. His work made us proud to wear purple and to be a member of the K-State family. There simply is not an area of the university we all love that Jon Wefald did not impact – facilities, scholarships, champions on and off the field, private gifts and enrollment. We will miss his passion to serve, interest in doing what is right for K-State and his contagious enthusiasm.
“I was honored to be one of his first appointments and took great pleasure in serving in his cabinet for his entire presidency.”
Pat Bosco, former vice president for student life and dean of students
“K-State lost a legend on Saturday. Jon Wefald was an extraordinary member of the K-State family, and our great university would not be what it is today without his outstanding leadership. He will be greatly missed.”Greg Willems, president and CEO, KSU Foundation
“It is a sad day for Kansas State University and the Wildcat family. President Wefald helped transform Kansas State into what it is today and was the driving force behind elevating our university into one of the top land-grant schools in the country. His passion for athletics was also well documented and his impact on not only our program but also the Big 12 Conference will always be a part of his legacy. He will be dearly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”Gene Taylor, director of athletics
“President Wefald created a lasting legacy at Kansas State University and we are a better university because of his leadership. He was a passionate leader and a good friend to many, including me. Ruth Ann and the entire Wefald family are in my thoughts and prayers.”Amy Button Renz, CEO and president, K-State Alumni Association
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Senator Dr. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also released statements on social media:
“I am saddened to learn that former K-State President Jon Wefald’s has passed away. Dr. Wefald was a transformative leader. In his 23-year presidency, he grew the state university’s enrollment and footprint, making great strides in developing K-State to be the institution it is today. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
Sad to hear of the passing of one of @KState’s most impactful and transformational leaders. Proud to call him a friend. He will be dearly missed.Senator Dr. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.)
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Jon Wefald today. As President, he shepherded Kansas State University through one of its toughest periods, successfully navigating the university though the uncertain terrain of K-State’s athletic program and enrollment issues. I remember seeing not just K-State’s, but Manhattan’s, progress during his tenure, and the revitalization the community continues to enjoy is due in large part to his 23 years of leadership at the helm.
President Wefald cared deeply about students and the K-State community. He had a keen ability to identify potential in young people and mentor them to help reach it. He did so for both of my daughters as he recruited them into the K-State family.
Robba and I are praying for his wife, Ruth Ann, his sons, Andy and Skipp, and their families and loves ones.Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)