Students, Staff Remember WSU Professor

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

"Remembering Les Anderson"

Wichita State University

Elliott School of Communication

Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

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Update: Sunday, November 13, 2011

Long-time Wichita State University journalism professor, Les Anderson, passed away from a heart attack, Saturday night.

His friends remember the man whose professionalism and ideals influenced many in the journalism community.

"Les had an amazing sense of humor. Everything that he did, he did with great warmth," said Lou Heldman, Wichita State University Elliott School interim director.

The warmth Les had came from being a life-long Kansan, a proud family man, and an insightful journalism teacher.

In 1990, Larry Hatterberg followed Les as he interviewed Valley Center residents who had their homes destroyed by a tornado. He told Hatterberg, "The important thing is...you have to be a human being before you are a journalist."

Students and colleagues remembered sitting in his office always learning something new from the man.

"Les had so many advisees and people he mentored," said Ragini Venkatasubban, Les' student and mentee. "He knew thousands of people but whenever you were in his office, sitting across from him, it was like you were the only person he cared about."

His office remains with a large bulletin board filled with memories of his 62 year long life and a 34-year-old career as a journalism professor at Wichita State.

"Some professors are loved because they care so much about their students and they give so much to them. Les was that rare person who was both respected and loved," said Heldman.

Few people have funds established in their name, in their lifetime. Les was one of the few.

Three weeks ago, Les witnessed the establishment of "The Les Anderson Fund for Students" at the Elliott School of Communication. Heldman said the endowed fund gives communication students a resource to pay for out-of-classroom experiences to help them develop as students and professionals.

"He has touched so many thousands of students and been a role model for so many people that his friends wanted to honor him while he could enjoy it," said Heldman.

Now, people will remember this long-time teacher and friend with the life lessons he shared by his example.

"He told me that the point of life is not to get yourself bogged down with so many things but to really find and do what you love," said Venkatasubban.

A memorial service in his honor will take place this week. The family is finalizing the date and location.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

A long-time Wichita State University faculty member has died.

Journalism professor Les Anderson, a WSU faculty member since 1977, died Saturday of an apparent heart attack.

A statement on the University's official Twitter page said, "WSU journalism professor Les Anderson died yesterday. Words can't express how beloved he was to all who knew him. Such an enormous loss."

Current and former students as well as friends of Anderson plan to hold a candlelight vigil in his honor at 6:30 p.m. outside of the Elliott School of Communication on the WSU campus.

Before joining Wichita State, Anderson worked for The Wichita Eagle from 1971 to 1974, helped found the The Wichita Sun weekly newspaper in 1974 and started the The Ark Valley News in 1975. Anderson and his wife, Nancy, continued to own that weekly Valley Center publication until 2001.

Wichita State last month held a fundraiser to endow The Les Anderson Fund, which will be used to help pay for out-of-classroom learning opportunities such as conferences and seminars.

A past president of the Kansas Press Association, Anderson was awarded that organization's honors for mentoring, community service and writing excellence. He received the WSU Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004.

Anderson was also a member of the Kansas professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and served as the faculty advisor for the organization's student chapter.

Former students and other friends of Anderson have filled his Facebook page with tributes and thoughts for his wife, five children and seven grand children.

A Facebook page to honor him can be found by, click here


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