Retired FHSU professor, chair makes deferred gift to speech-language pathology programs

marcia bannister

HAYS, Kan. – Throughout its history, Fort Hays State University has been fortunate to have many accomplished and dedicated faculty members. Dr. Marcia Bannister is a retired FHSU professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders who stands out through all she has done and continues to do for the university.

Bannister also plans to support Fort Hays State after her passing. 

At the time of her retirement in 2004, her four sons and her colleagues created the Marcia Bannister Fund for Excellence in recognition of her leadership and dedication to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Herndon Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. She earned many awards and honors during her career and, along with her colleagues, brought accreditation to the speech-language pathology program.

“The expansion of the Marcia Bannister Fund for Excellence, celebrated today, is indicative of her thoughtfulness for those she has served for all of these years,” said Dr. Jeff Briggs, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“These resources will support faculty and staff development, graduate students in the form of scholarships and assistantships, and the funds will support the region, as our graduates enter the field better prepared to serve the needs of western Kansas and beyond.” 

Bannister graduated from FHSU with a B.S. in elementary education in 1961 and an M.S. in 1962 majoring in speech therapy and minoring in psychology. Currently, she serves on the FHSU Foundation Board of Trustees and stays informed on advancements throughout the university.

Bannister’s planned giving initiative will provide supplemental financial resources to enhance the exceptionality of the speech-language program. Her altruism will allow the speech-language pathology program and the Herndon Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic to fulfill their needs and realize their goals.

Working closely with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Herndon Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, she specified certain parameters for how the chair of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department may allocate the annual earnings from the endowed fund.

Bannister recounted the history of the program from its days in a small area of the Picken Hall basement to an academic department with spacious accommodations in Albertson Hall. Her own history included the mentorship of founder Geneva Herndon.

“I think you can see that my career as a speech-language pathologist has touched my heart and soul, and now my pocketbook,” she said. “I want to help the program educate students in an exceptional manner.” 

“The speech-language pathology program will continue to touch many lives in the future,” she said. “It will prepare students for careers in assisting clients young and old. It will benefit from additional financial resources. Thus my gift. With the continued support of the FHSU administration, our quality will shine out!”

Bannister established her planned gift in working with the Fort Hays State University Foundation. The majority of the retirement account she built during her 35-year tenure at FHSU will go to the Marcia Bannister Fund for Excellence. Beginning this year, 73 percent of the minimum annual distribution from the retirement account will go into the Marcia Bannister Fund for Excellence. Upon her passing, the same percentage of what remains in the retirement account will be gifted to the FHSU fund.

“I want to thank Dr. Marcia Bannister for telling us the history – it’s so important because it not only shapes who we are, but also who we’re becoming,” said FHSU President Tisa Mason. “You epitomize all that Fort Hays State University stands for. As a student at FHSU, you found a mentor, a dream and a vision – or in your words, you found your heart and your soul – and that’s what we want for all of our students.” 

“Throughout your career,” she said, “you paid it forward with grace and compassion, and you’re continuing that today with a magnificent gift, and we cannot thank you enough.” 

With this gift to Fort Hays State, Bannister becomes a member of the FHSU Foundation’s Wooster Society, which honors those who ensure the future and strength of the university through planned giving. 

“Gifts like this don’t happen every day,” said Jason Williby, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. “Our Fort Hays State Foundation benefits greatly from the leadership of individuals like Marcia, who have stepped forward and allowed us to share their story.”

“In Marcia’s case,” he said, “she’s leaving a legacy via her retirement account, but for others it may be a cash gift, a life estate reserve, a gift of oil, land or property.”

To learn more about the FHSU Foundation and planned giving, visit, call 785-628-5620 or email

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