Former KSU Polytechnic CEO and Dean Hopes to Create New Campus Tradition with Gifted Sculpture

Verna Fitzsimmons, former CEO and dean of Kansas State Polytechnic Campus, and her husband, Jim Fitzsimmons, stand next to the sculpture “Special K” that she gifted to the campus (Photo: KSU Polytechnic)

SALINA – A few weeks before her last day as CEO and dean of the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, Verna Fitzsimmons unveiled a new addition to the school that she hopes students, faculty and staff will use to capture some of their campus memories.

Fitzsimmons has gifted Kansas State Polytechnic a sculpture, titled “Special K,” that is now the centerpiece of Ballou Plaza on campus. The artwork is constructed of three curved pieces resembling the letter “K” and is painted K-State purple. Fitzsimmons first saw the piece, designed by Oklahoma artist Jim Stewart, in 2017 when it was included in Salina’s Sculpture Tour. She wants its installation on campus to encourage a new tradition among Wildcats.

“I’m excited that this sculpture will now permanently reside here on campus,” said Fitzsimmons at the reveal ceremony June 14. “I really hope it starts some new traditions, for students especially. During move-in day, they can stop here and take a picture in front of it to mark their first day, or after graduation, they can take pictures here to commemorate their journey on campus.”

“Special K” can be seen from the main entrance into Kansas State Polytechnic, sparking the idea that the artwork also could become a campus landmark.

“I hope it becomes an iconic piece that the community recognizes as the Polytechnic Campus,” Fitzsimmons said. “I want it to encourage visitors to come to campus and then while they are here, tour the rest of the property.”

In May 2017, Fitzsimmons announced she would be retiring as CEO and dean of Kansas State Polytechnic at the end of the next academic year. She had served in the role since 2012. After departing at the end of June 2018, she joined Higher Education Resource Services, or HERS, as president. Alysia Starkey, associate dean of academics and acting director of professional education and outreach at Kansas State Polytechnic, began serving as interim CEO and dean on July 1.

When posting photos with “Special K” on social media, make sure to use the hashtag #capturethek.

Updated: July 13, 2018 — 4:28 pm

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