PITTSBURG, Kan. – Before departing Topeka Thursday to pedal to Emporia — the next leg of his 12-day, 800-mile bike trip across Kansas to raise $8 million in scholarships and get to know the state — Pittsburg State University President Dan Shipp met with Lt. Gov. David Toland.
Toland, of Iola, also serves as the Secretary of Commerce. He recently toured the National Institute for Materials Advancement at Pitt State and was a supporter of the Block22 development.
“He’s a big supporter of everything we’re doing in Southeast Kansas, certainly at Pitt State University,” Shipp said. “You’re a friend, a partner of ours.”
Toland showed up wearing a Prairie Pathways t-shirt — a nod to the route between Pittsburg and Iola that he and Pitt State Economic Development Director Darrell Pulliam had lobbied for and that Shipp and Pulliam rode on the first leg of their trip Monday.
It was quickly replaced by a “Dan Bikes Kansas” t-shirt that Shipp and Pulliam brought along.
“I’m thrilled to see this very ambitious bike ride across Kansas that’s doing a lot of good,” Toland said. “I know you guys are raising tons of money for scholarships."
By Day 4 of the trip, $271,543 had been received in pledges.
Toland said those scholarship dollars, along with the NIMA research he has seen being done at Pitt State, has economic ripple effects across the state.
He praised the plan to move Pitt State’s Kelce College of Business to Downtown Pittsburg and the development of Gorilla Rising.
“It’s incredibly cool,” he said. “Pitt State is the engine that’s driving Southeast Kansas.”
Riding into the weekend
Thursday night, Shipp and his crew planned to gather in Emporia where he'll meet with Flint Hills Technical College President Caron Daugherty, and Friday will head to El Dorado, where he'll also have an evening gathering.
Saturday, he’ll be volunteering to do clean-up along the Arkansas River. He and his crew are planning to meet at the Keeper of the Plains and work their way out from there for about an hour and a half before they go get cleaned up themselves for the evening gathering.
Saturday evening, he'll be at Chicken N Pickle, 1240 N. Greenwich Road, Wichita, for a gathering from 5 to 8 p.m.
Sunday afternoon, he’ll be at Salt City Brewing Co., 514 N. Main, Hutchinson, for a gathering from 4 to 6 p.m.
These events are free and open to the public.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep the cost of coming to Pitt State affordable for our students and their families,” he said. “Just as importantly, I hope to hear from Kansans about the need for what we do at Pitt State — their expectations of higher education. What families and students are thinking, what hardships they face, and what things they’re hopeful for.”