Carol and Ken Pitetti give back to the university where they work

The proud Shockers plan to endow the first-ever doctoral fellowship in physical therapy

Through their estate plans, Carol and Ken Pitetti will create a doctoral fellowship for physical therapy students at Wichita State. Carol has worked in the College of Education for 15 years; Ken has been a professor of physical therapy for 25 years.
Through their estate plans, Carol and Ken Pitetti will create a doctoral fellowship for physical therapy students at Wichita State. Carol has worked in the College of Education for 15 years; Ken has been a professor of physical therapy for 25 years.

Peek into Ken and Carol Pitetti’s closets and you’re likely to notice a lot of black and yellow attire. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since the Pitettis make it a point to wear a WSU-emblazoned shirt, jacket, scarf or cap whenever they're out and about.

    “We’re proud of where we are, proud of Wichita State and appreciative of everything it’s given us,” says Carol, an academic advisor for the College of Education.

I Heart WSU Faculty and Staff campaign logo

WSU Foundation's I Heart WSU! logo for the 2014 faculty and staff giving campaign.

 February campaign encourages WSU faculty and staff to give

    Throughout the month of February, faculty and staff members at Wichita State will be urged to donate to their university as part of the WSU Foundation’s I Heart WSU! campaign.The campaign is intended to raise awareness among WSU faculty and staff about the importance of supporting the areas they are most passionate about, said Krista Voth, director of the WSU Foundation Annual Fund. 

    “Whether it’s athletics, KMUW, an academic program, a particular scholarship or other priority, we ask our faculty and staff to consider giving back to that part of the university they’re most enthusiastic about,” Voth said. “That’s why we’re calling this the I Heart WSU! campaign.

    ”Currently, about 20 percent of faculty and staff at Wichita State contribute to WSU.Voth is meeting with faculty and staff groups throughout February to explain how the giving process works, emphasizing the convenience of setting up a payroll deduction to make their gifts.

    “When faculty and staff make it a priority to give back to the university, they’re also showing our other donors how much confidence and value they place in Wichita State,” Voth said.

    Giving to Wichita State is just a click away. Visit the I Heart WSU! campaign page to learn more.

    “We’re always wearing Wichita State clothes when we’re out in the world among other people,” adds Ken, a professor of physical therapy at WSU.

    Wearing Shocker attire is just one way the couple tries to be good ambassadors for Wichita State. In the right situations, they’ll also champion Wichita State as a place to teach, work and learn and they’ll even try to persuade a young person to become a Shocker.

    But the Pitettis recently took their most significant action yet to demonstrate their support for Wichita State. They have pledged a gift from their estate to endow a doctoral fellowship in the Physical Therapy Department, the first in that field since it transitioned to a doctoral program. They would like the fellowship to help students with financial need.

    “When I got into physical therapy some years ago, I became part of a program where I see kids from all over Kansas with meager means,” Ken said. “These are the kids who we have to keep coming into our programs, as well as those representing minorities.”

    “We hope this fellowship will ease the financial burden many students have as they move through a very demanding time in their lives,” Carol added.

    “Along with this estate gift, Ken and Carol support a variety of fundraising initiatives at Wichita State,” said Krista Voth, director of annual fund for the WSU Foundation. “I hope their passion for WSU serves as an inspiration to all faculty and staff this month during the ‘I Heart WSU!’ campaign, a chance for all of us who work here to give financially to what we love on campus.”

    The Pitettis believe fiercely in the power of education. When considering how to structure their bequest, they discussed what their late son James would have wanted them to do.

    “The key word was education,” Carol said. “James was an honor student, he was in the Air Force Academy, he played three varsity sports. He epitomized education and learning. Given that, there were two directions we could go. Both are in education.”

“The only way to pay back the people who have helped us is to pay it forward." 

- Ken Pitetti

    Besides Wichita State, the Pitettis also intend to leave a portion of their estate to the ARC of Sedgwick County’s YESS program, which provides summer educational and recreational activities for developmentally disabled children. Ken has worked with the program the past 25 years as part of his research on the physical capabilities of the intellectually and developmentally challenged.

    A Vietnam War veteran who lost part of his right leg in a landmine explosion, Ken has dedicated his career to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. He has co-authored nearly 90 research studies.

Ken Pitetti in his classroom
Ken Pitetti hopes the doctoral fellowship will help physical therapy students afford the ever-rising cost of getting a college degree.

    Though the Pitettis have had their share of personal hardship — the couple has endured the deaths of both of their sons — they are grateful for the good things that have come their way.

     “We have a comfortable life, and we want to help others make it in a similar way,” Ken said. “We all have gotten help somewhere along the way in our lives and the only way to pay back the people who have helped us is to pay it forward.”

    “Wichita State has been really good to us,” Carol added. “We have both spent a large part of our careers here. We want to give back to our university, and our community.”


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