HAYS- In a Monday afternoon news conference on the Fort Hays State University campus, FHSU Foundation President and CEO Jason Williby announced a major gift from Hays residents Wilmer and Lorena Kellogg.

The Kelloggs are longtime financial supporters of Fort Hays State, from where Lorena graduated.

This time, the generous couple are giving $1 million for student scholarships, divided among three areas -- education, business and athletics.

Hays without FHSU, did you ever think about this? the Kelloggs asked in a prepared statement. Without Fort Hays State, the city would be a very small town. Without it, I doubt that we would have a regional hospital. Without it, we would not have a regional airport. Without it, we would not have the variety of restaurants that we have. The list goes on and on. We don't know about everyone, but our lives revolve around the activities related to Fort Hays State.

FHSUs current Journey Campaign encourages donors to give to the area of Fort Hays State that means the most to them. For the Kelloggs, the opportunity to provide scholarships for students in the areas of education, business and athletics was a perfect fit for their interests.

Part of their gift will support education, representing Lorenas 32 years of teaching in elementary schools in Plainville, Palco, Salina and Hays, where she taught at Jefferson Elementary School for 28 years.

Wilmer, a Hays businessman, chose business for another portion of their gift. The Kelloggs are still busy with their rental business in Hays.

The remaining portion of their gift will go toward athletics. The Kelloggs have supported FHSUs athletics for many years, and they can be seen at Tiger athletic events year-round and have witnessed both the Tiger mens and womens basketball teams take national titles over the years.

Dr. Andy Tompkins, interim president of FHSU, was on hand to thank the Kelloggs.

This gift from Wilmer and Lorena Kellogg will help FHSU continue its efforts to provide scholarship assistance to deserving students in order to better ensure their success and make higher education affordable, Tompkins said. We are known here for having the lowest tuition (among regents universities, but our students still need scholarships. Students for many years to come will benefit greatly from the Kelloggs generosity.

Curtis Hammeke, director of athletics, said the Kelloggs gift will have a tremendous impact on student athletics moving into the future as it relates to our ability to offer athletic scholarships.

The cost of education will always be going up, Hammeke said, and gifts such as these allow us to continue to grow and our ability to improve the best and brightest student-athletes.

FHSU student-athletes are champions not only in the athletic arena but also in the classroom.

Of the nearly 5,000 on-campus students at FHSU, about 450 are student-athletes. Of those, more than 75 percent maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher nearly every year.

One of those is Hays senior Drew OBrien, who spoke at the news conference.

I grew up in Hays and was blessed to receive an athletic scholarship to play football for the Tigers, said OBrien, a business-marketing major with a minor in finance. Other scholarships, including some from the business department, allowed me to concentrate on my classes and football without having to work a lot -- and without incurring a large debt when I graduate. Donors such as Wilmer and Lorena Kellogg help us students realize our dream of earning a college degree.

Future students will be impacted by the Kelloggs generosity for years to come, added O'Brien, who will graduate in May from the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and Id like to thank them on behalf of all students at Fort Hays State.

Dr. Paul Adams, dean of the College of Education, agreed that it is the support of donors such as the Kelloggs that make college accessible for students at FHSU.

Scholarship support is more than a gift; it is an investment in the future of our community, region and state, Adams said. The scholarship support for the College of Education will make college possible for future teachers. I thank the Kelloggs, not only for the help they are providing to members of the Tiger Teacher Nation, but also for every pre-K to 12 student who benefits from these teachers. This gift will touch thousands of people for generations to come.

The Kelloggs have chosen to support student scholarships at FHSU through a life estate. They have deeded properties over to Fort Hays State. They still manage the properties and receive income and tax benefits from them. However, upon their death, or sale of the properties, the sale value will come to FHSU.

In addition to being longtime supporters of FHSU, the Kelloggs also are members of FHSUs Wooster Society, a group of individuals who have arranged gifts to the FHSU Foundation through planned giving. Wilmer also served as a trustee for the FHSU Foundation for several years in the 1990s.

The Kelloggs, who for years have supported the Fort Hays State shooting team -- which has won three national titles the past three years -- also are Difference Makers for FHSU, a group of individuals and businesses that have chosen to strengthen Tiger athletics by giving a minimum of $5,000 annually to the Tiger athletics program.

The Kelloggs came to Hays in 1965 from Salina, where Wilmer was civilian manager of the Officers Club for 11 and a half years. After the Schilling Air Force Base closed, he took over as manager of the Smoky Hill Country Club in Hays until the late 1970s.

Williby thanked the Kelloggs, noting that their life estate gift is one of many ways to support FHSU.

You can provide student scholarships, fund a program or initiative that meets your interests, leave land to Fort Hays State or transfer your stock or IRA. No matter how you choose to give, your support will leave a lasting legacy at FHSU and make an incredible impact on the future of our great university.

For more information on the FHSU Foundation and how to join the Kelloggs in supporting your Fort Hays State, visit http://foundation.fhsu.edu, call 785-628-5620 or email foundation@fhsu.edu.