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 Wednesday.
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.
A native of Wellington, 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 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 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.