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Kelce receives donation, jumpstarts renovations

The Sunderland Foundation gifted $1 million toward the Kelce College of Business renovations. 

The donation campaign to benefit the renovations began in 2015 with a donation by PSU alumni John and Susan Lowe totaling $3 million. 

“These are our future business leaders and business workforce,” Paul Grimes, dean of the Kelce College of Business, said, “They’ll be going out into business soon, and we want them to have been educated in the very best environment possible.” 

Lester T. Sunderland, former president of Ash Grove Cement, created the Foundation in 1945. The Foundation focuses on the areas of higher education, health care, human services, and the arts for their giving. 

“The Sunderland Foundation previously gave $50,000 to the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, and in doing so saw what we are able to accomplish here at Pittsburg State to the benefit of our students and our community,” Kathleen Flannery, president of the PSU Foundation and vice president for university advancement, said. 

Kathleen Flannery started at Pittsburg State University in 1998 as the interim director of international programs and services. She then served as assistant to the vice president for student affairs from 1999 to 2003, when she moved to director of annual giving. Before Pittsburg State, Flannery served as the dean of students at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. 

“We have more than 1,000 business students enrolled each semester…” Grimes said, “… The gift will impact many generations of future business Gorillas. It is special because the Sunderland Foundation has roots right here in Southeast Kansas and we greatly appreciate regional business leaders reinvesting in our shared future.” 

Grants from the Sunderland Foundation help develop nonprofits and charitable organizations and grants have been awarded in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Montana. The Foundation has donated to projects including community centers, museums, and housing projects, all sponsored by vetted tax-exempt organizations. 

Grimes also said the Foundation’s contribution would help provide the funding for a project that is essential to giving future students quality business education and instruction, as well as a professional and comfortable environment to learn in, advanced, up-to-date equipment, and more courses relating to teaching business subjects. Grimes, a PSU alumnus of economics, began as the dean of the Kelce College of Business in 2011 and previous to this role, he served as faculty and college administrator at Mississippi State University for 25 years. 

Kelce’s building was not originally home to the College of Business. Constructed in 1950, the building’s original purpose was to house a teaching laboratory for secondary-level education majors. Flannery hopes the renovations will break ground in 2020 and the renovations will include seminar halls for advanced undergraduate and masters-level courses, variable classrooms to accommodate unique teaching styles, meeting rooms for students to work on group projects, more office space to better accommodate growth in faculty, professional traffic, graduate assistants, and student organizations, and an electronic classroom benefitting classes that require internet resources. 


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