Popular nursing faculty member to head up Alumni Association
11:53:35 AM CDT - Thursday, January 20, 2005
By Amy Geiszler-Jones
Debbie Kennedy has experienced Wichita State from a variety of angles — as a student, a faculty member and an avid athletics fan. Starting Feb. 1, she'll champion the university from another angle — as executive director of the WSU Alumni Association.
Kennedy, a popular School of Nursing faculty member for the past 10 years, takes over the association following the departure of Brad Beets, who resigned July 1 after seven years in the position to become associate pastor/minister of youth and Christian education at Pleasantview Baptist Church in Derby.
"This is an opportunity to teach on another subject, and it's Wichita State and that's exciting," said Kennedy. An award-winning teacher, Kennedy said she has had "moments of tears and joys" as she packs up her Ahlberg Hall office for an office in Woodman Alumni Center. For the students who've expressed sadness at her departure, she assures them that while they won't have her in the classroom, they're getting a far better deal from WSU in the long run — a degree.
It's that kind of enthusiasm that earned Kennedy the Alumni Association job. Once called a cheerleader for the nursing program, she said she relishes the opportunity to champion WSU to its alumni, current and prospective students, faculty, staff and friends.
Kennedy is no stranger to the Alumni Association. Last fall, she coordinated the Rockin' the Roundhouse auction event, which premiered as a benefit for the Alumni Association and athletics.
"My experience working with volunteers and as a member of the faculty, blended with my passion for WSU, have prepared me to lead the Alumni Association in serving all its constituents," Kennedy said.
Kennedy's passion for WSU began as a student in its master of nursing program. After researching nursing programs, she chose WSU and commuted from Hays until she earned her MSN degree in 1994. Kennedy earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from Fort Hays State in 1984.
As the wife of Mike Kennedy, who is the play-by-play commentator for WSU's men's basketball and baseball games on KNSS, Kennedy has also developed a passion for athletics. She's already warned Alumni Association staffers that at the Alumni Association's watch parties for the away basketball games, held at the Fox and Hound restaurant, she will probably be sporting a radio headset, so she can continue to support her husband's announcing of the games.
As a nursing faculty member, Kennedy had been the adviser for the Nursing Student Association. A new adviser for the group has not yet been named. Kennedy will continue as the academic adviser for the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
Kennedy's teaching load — four labs and a lecture class on primary health care — will be divided this spring semester among two existing faculty within the School of Nursing, according to chair Juanita Tate. A search for Kennedy's 60-percent position will eventually be conducted, Tate said.
The WSU Alumni Association is an independent nonprofit organization with an annual operating budget of $1 million and 11 staff members. Led by a volunteer board of directors, the association is the oldest and largest organization in support of higher education at Wichita State. Its mission is to enhance relationships among WSU alumni, current and prospective students, faculty, staff and friends to foster loyalty and support for the university and for one another.