The Wildgen Family Scholarship
Mike Wildgen is a 1972 graduate of the MPA program with his undergraduate degree also from KU. Mike began his career with the City of Kansas City, Missouri and then served in the City of Olathe before becoming assistant city manager in Lawrence. Mike spent 31 years with the City of Lawrence, 16 of those years as city manager. Since leaving Lawrence city government in 2006, he has served as interim administrative leader for the Watkins Community Museum of History, interim city administrator for the city of Eudora, and interim manager for the Lawrence Humane Society. In October, Mike was named interim director for the Lawrence Public Library while the board searches for a permanent director.
The Wildgen Family Scholarship was endowed in 2006 and the first award given in the fall of 2007. Mike explains that the idea for the scholarship came from his family’s commitment to public service. His grandfather was a long-time volunteer firefighter in Hoisington, KS; his dad a city councilman in Hoisington; and his brother, Paul, is an employee of Johnson County, KS.
While working for the City of Lawrence, Mike would routinely hire interns to mentor and as a way to assist in their financial support while in school. He was keenly aware of the importance of student financial help. Mike says “I hope with our gift other young people interested in public service may graduate from KU and continue the work of KUCIMATs in improving community life.”
What some recipients have said about their award:
“The Wildgen Scholarship plays a big role in attracting the best students to come to KU. Without competitive scholarship packages to attract students to the program, we would risk losing some of the best and brightest to other schools. The Wildgen Scholarship is one of the critical components of the KU program... and one I greatly benefited from personally. I’m very grateful for the opportunity it granted me.”
Justin Pregont, KU MPA 2011, Public Works Director, City of Atchison, Kansas
“One feature that sets the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration apart from other programs is the unwavering alumni support. Mr. Wildgen exemplifies what it means to give back to the program. In addition to the financial assistance from the Wildgen Family Scholarship which allowed me to attend a top-ranked graduate program, Mr. Wildgen has also generously donated his time to provide guidance as I pursue a career in public service. I sincerely appreciate his assistance, both as a mentor and as a benefactor of the Wildgen Family Scholarship.”
Michelle Stevens, KU MPA 2012, Budget Analyst, City of Olathe, Kansas
“I am extremely grateful to have been selected as this year’s Wildgen Scholarship recipient. This scholarship has helped to provide me the opportunity to take part in an excellent program that is pairing my commitment to public service with critical skills and valuable experiences. I am very excited and fortunate to be able to channel this opportunity into a career in public administration.”
Alyssa McMullin, KU MPA 2013, Budget Analyst, City of San Antonio, Texas