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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

Faculty make a lasting impact
Mike Everhart
Mike Everhart, with a skull of a mosasaur found in Kansas.

Faculty members have the potential to change the lives and influence the professional paths of hundreds of students. Mike Everhart knows this first-hand.

After graduating from Wichita State in 1969, then serving in Vietnam, Everhart returned to WSU in 1973 to pursue a master’s degree. He then met Donald ‘Doc’ Distler, an associate professor of biology.

“Still very much in a military mindset, and seeing this long-haired ‘hippie’ professor at the head of the class, I had to wonder if I had made a mistake,” Everhart recalls. “If so, it turned out to be the best mistake I ever made.”

Everhart and Distler hit it off and worked on a research project together. “Those were good times, and Doc’s teaching and friendship have stayed with me throughout my careers,” Everhart says.

After 12 years at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Health Department, he moved to Boeing to become environmental manager, retiring in 2003. That’s when his career as a paleontologist began. It has included two books, “Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Creatures of the Deep” and “Oceans of Kansas – A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea.” He was a contributor to the BBC documentary “Chased by Sea Monsters” and served as a science adviser on the National Geographic film “Sea Monsters.” He still holds the post of adjunct curator of paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays. Everhart lives in Derby with his wife, Pamela.

Distler, the longtime director of the WSU Biological Research Center on the Ninnescah River, was still working at the age of 89 when he died in 2017. Everhart was one of thousands of students he inspired and educated during his tenure at Wichita State.