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Kansas Wesleyan University

Kansas Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of The Honorable William P. (Bill) Graves ’76, former Gov. of Kansas, to the position of Trustee Emeritus, effective Fall 2020.

“Kansas Wesleyan and its Board of Trustees are very fortunate that Governor Graves has agreed to serve once again, this time as Trustee Emeritus,” said Jeff Bieber ’71, board president. “Governor Graves has previously dedicated fifteen years of board service to KWU, and we are honored to welcome him back. His litany of experiences will, no doubt, assist in the counsel and guidance for KWU. Personally, I feel that each and every trustee will benefit and grow from Gov. Graves’s willingness and passion to assist in the leadership of his alma mater. His commitment to our university, its students and its mission will stimulate Coyote Pride.”    

Graves has a long association with KWU, which goes considerably beyond that of most graduates. His great-grandfather, Henry M. Mayo, was the very first graduate of KWU in 1887. His sister, Martha, graduated in 1974 and his father, also named William Graves, spent time on the KWU Board of Trustees. The younger Graves played football for legendary coach Gene Bissell and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. 

He joined the KWU Board of Trustees in 1982, became Kansas’ Secretary of State in 1991 and was elected governor in 1995. Graves completed his last term on the university’s board in 2000, and served two full terms as Governor of Kansas, leaving office on Jan. 13, 2003. He still stands as the longest-serving Republican governor in state history. Graves went on to help fuel the construction of KWU’s sports complex by serving as national co-chair of the capital campaign, and the complex bears his family’s name. Graves currently serves on the board of directors of the International Speedway Corporation, one of the driving forces behind American auto racing. 

“I’m very pleased to support Kansas Wesleyan as a Trustee Emeritus,” offered Gov. Graves. “While almost 50 years have passed since my sister Martha Graves Reese and I graduated, Kansas Wesleyan continues to hold special meaning for the Graves family. Our father, William H. Graves, Martha and I have all served as Kansas Wesleyan Trustees. We believe in the mission of Kansas Wesleyan and want to see all students benefit from the same academic, athletic, artistic and social opportunities that helped shape our lives. Kansas Wesleyan provides a complete college experience and I’m proud to offer my support to the Kansas Wesleyan Board of Trustees.”  

KWU President Matt Thompson shared his appreciation for Gov. Graves’ commitment to Kansas Wesleyan in stating, “Gov. Graves was one of the first to call when I was appointed president seven years ago. He has been a sounding board for ideas and one of the university’s greatest champions. We are pleased that he will be serving again in a more formal role. The Graves family holds an important spot in the university’s pantheon.”