‘Mr. K-State’ Ernie Barrett receives 2012 Wildcat Pride Award

Posted October 03, 2012


Ernie Barrett, a longtime supporter of Kansas State University and the K-State Alumni Association, will receive the 2012 Wildcat Pride Award to recognize K-State faculty or staff who have been instrumental in advancing the mission of the K-State Alumni Association through support of its programs.

Barrett, who earned the nickname “Mr. K-State” throughout his decades-long dedication to the university, will receive his award during the Association’s fall board meeting Oct. 4.

The award honors a current or emeritus K-State faculty or staff member for his/her advocacy of alumni relations, with a special emphasis on support and participation in alumni programs that engage members of the Wildcat family.

“I am personally thrilled to recognize Ernie for his passionate advocacy of all things K-State, but in particular, for his almost 60 years of heartfelt support of the Alumni Association,” said Amy Button Renz, president and CEO of the Association. “Our staff is honored to acknowledge this very special member of the K-State family with the 2012 Wildcat Pride Award.”

A native of Wellington, Kan., Barrett earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1951 and his master’s degree in journalism in 1956, both from K-State. During his undergraduate career, Barrett made a name for himself on the basketball court and was included in the first group of K-State players to have a jersey retired, according to K-State Athletics.

Although he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1951, Barrett chose to enlist in the U.S. Air Force, serving two years as a lieutenant. He then played for the Celtics for two seasons before returning to Manhattan, Kan., to take a position with the K-State Alumni Association. Barrett then began his career with K-State Athletics, serving many roles throughout the decades, including athletics director and director of major gifts, where he played a key role in securing funds for several university athletics facilities. Although he has held many positions within K-State and the private-business sector, Barrett has continued his die-hard commitment to alumni relations.

Through the years, Barrett served as a volunteer, spoke at alumni events, took part in the annual Catbacker tour, made major donations to Association programs and the K-State Alumni Center, promoted membership to other alumni and friends and traveled with the Traveling Wildcats program.

The Barrett Wildcat Den in the K-State Alumni Center is named in honor of Ernie, his wife, Bonnie, and sons Brad and Duane through a philanthropic gift to the Alumni Center building campaign.