Fundraiser, roast will fuel new Les Anderson Fund for Students
Longtime Wichita State University journalism professor Les Anderson is known for his sense of fun, love of bluegrass music and dislike of formal attire.
The main fundraising event to endow the Les Anderson Fund for Students in the Elliott School of Communication will address all three passions.
“Beyond Casual,” from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Marcus Welcome Center will be a party that comes with acoustic music by Pop and the Boys, a taco bar and a beer bar, and a fun program that starts at 7 p.m.
Admission is $40, and all proceeds will go toward the Les Anderson Fund for Students.
To make a reservation for Beyond Casual or for more donor information, go to https://foundation.wichita.edu/les.
Honoring Les Anderson
The creation of the fund came after former students of Anderson approached the WSU Foundation and Elliott School of Communication for ideas that would benefit students while honoring a professor who has always gone out of his way to support and promote his students.
The endowed fund will give the Elliott School a new resource to tap for learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom: a conference, a luncheon, a field trip, a special seminar class, for example.
A Facebook page created by the foundation also provides a link to event and donor information for the Anderson Fund. The “Friends of Les” page, at http://www.facebook.com/friendsofles, is already full of voices that reflect Anderson’s professionalism and trademark humor.
“I like this page so much, I think I ‘liked’ it twice! Mentally crafting my testimonial,” wrote Sara Dickenson Quinn, instructor, Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and the 2009 Elliott School Outstanding Alumna.
Les Fund executive committee members Tami Bradley, Shannon Littlejohn ‘89, Courtney Looney, Molly McMillin and Kent Meyerhoff are working on the Anderson Fund with Mike Rishell at the foundation and faculty/staff at the Elliott School.
Getting involved in the fundraising committee was an easy decision for Looney, a graduate student in the Elliott School who has worked with Anderson in class and on special projects, including the Symphony in the Flint Hills magazine.
“Because of Les, I found a true love for journalism and a passion to pay it forward to others, just like he has been for years,” said Looney.
Anderson has taught journalism full time at Wichita State since 1977. He worked for The Wichita Eagle from 1971-1974, when he helped start the Wichita Sun, a weekly newspaper. In 1975, he and his wife, Nancy, started their own award-winning weekly newspaper, the Ark Valley News in Valley Center; they sold it in 2001.
Anderson worked for The Hays Daily News while earning a bachelor’s degree at Fort Hays State, where he was recently honored as an outstanding alum. While studying for his master's at Missouri, he worked on the sports desk at The Missourian and served as a GTA.
He is a past president of the Kansas Press Association, and has served on numerous state and national committees. In 2003, he won the Karl & Dorothy Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award from KPA. He previously received KPA's Boyd Award for outstanding service to his community.
Over the years, Anderson and three of his former students also received the annual Victor Murdock Award given each year by the Kansas Press Association for writing excellence.
He serves on the board of the Kansas Newspaper Foundation's Cornerstone Campaign and is a board member of the Kansas professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He also is the faculty adviser for the student SPJ chapter, the newly formed Public Relations Society of America student chapter and a member of the WSU Board of Student Publications.
In May 2004, Anderson received the WSU Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award for WSU. He and his wife have five children and seven grandchildren.
For more information about Anderson or giving to the Les Anderson Fund for Students, contact Mike Rishell, development director for WSU's Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at (316) 978-3945 or firstname.lastname@example.org.