Sauder Alumni Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary

October 20, 2016

“It is in her honor, the dearest and sweetest person I have ever known, a most wonderful and understanding wife, mother and grandmother, that I dedicate the building,” Earl Sauder expressed in October 1991 at the grand opening of the Sauder Alumni Center.

The Sauder Alumni Center is home to the Emporia State University Alumni Association and the Emporia State University Foundation. Founded in 1880, the Alumni Association seeks to build relationships that advance ESU. The ESU Foundation was created in 1952 to raise and manage philanthropic resources to advance the mission of Emporia State University. 

The Foundation and Alumni Association have had a close relationship from the beginning. The Foundation and Alumni Association moved into their current home — the Sauder Alumni Center — in time for Homecoming 1991. During Homecoming 2016, the Sauder Alumni Center celebrated its 25th anniversary.

To celebrate the milestone, the Emporia community gathered at the Sauder Alumni Center on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 15 to reflect on the past 25 years and look forward to the next 25 years. 

“This building certainly serves as wonderful office space and a beautiful event venue, but it’s so much more than that,” said Tyler Curtis, executive director of the Alumni Association. “It’s a place where ESU’s past and present is celebrated and its future is contemplated. It’s a place where relationships are strengthened and lives are changed. It’s a place all Hornets can be proud to call home.”  

Construction began on the Sauder Alumni Center during what was known as Alumni-Reunion Weekend in 1990 after the groundbreaking ceremony took place. To raise funds for the $1.7 million building, a gift challenge was issued.

The gift challenge stated that if $500,000 were raised toward the completion of the building in less than six months, a matching gift to name the building would be given. More than 600 Emporia State Alumni came together and met this challenge!

The late Earl Sauder would give the leading gift of the building project in honor of his late wife, Stelouise. If Stelouise Hockensmith had not graduated from ESU, the Sauder Alumni Center might still be a dream. Stelouise received a life certification in elementary education in 1937. Earl and Stelouise met when she took a third-grade teaching position in Madison, Kansas, Earl’s hometown.

“All was wine and roses until 1985 when she was diagnosed as a victim of that devastating disease known as Alzheimer’s,” Sauder said in 1991. 

To this day his generous gift honors Stelouise daily.

Earl Sauder was a longtime business leader in Emporia.  He supported Emporia State University in a variety of ways, including the establishment of the Earl W. Sauder Student-Athlete Scholarship with a $1.25 million gift in 2004 just two months before his death.

“I commend Earl Sauder and 600 others who 25 years ago understood the significance of engaging Hornet Nation within the Sauder Alumni Center,” said Shane Shivley, president/CEO of the Emporia State Foundation. “It’s humbling to work with the dedicated staff within this building. There’s no better time to recognize a Hornet Nation filled with inspiration as we look for a strong finish to the Now & Forever campaign.”




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