President Scott honored at retirement celebration 

When friends, family, mentors, employees, donors, alumni, and educational leaders gathered Friday in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts to honor retiring Pittsburg State President Steve Scott, the message was unified: he made a difference. 

Speakers included philanthropist Gene Bicknell, Freeman Health System President and CEO (and PSU graduate) Paula Baker, his brother and former Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Howard Smith. The program was emceed by Andy Tompkins, former president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, and a former chair and dean in PSU’s College of Education. 


They, along with videos featuring reflections by other members of Gorilla Nation, paid tribute to him as an inspiring friend and impactful leader of an institution that has weathered challenging times during his 13 years at the helm, including a recession, a decline in state funding, and a pandemic. 

They pointed to the completion of capital projects including the one of the biggest in university history — the Bicknell Center — as well as an expanded and renovated Overman Student Center, the Robert W. Plaster Center, and Block22. And, they credited him with helping to raise more than $126 million in private donations. 


Baker praised him for the creation of a new degree in the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing — a doctor of nursing practice — that is now more critical than ever, she said. And, she shared personal anecdotes, crediting him with being a true friend from whom she sought advice. 

Smith, who fought back emotions after sharing his own reflections and those of President’s Council members, said Scott encouraged mentorship and leadership, and noted that “you can’t walk around this university without seeing his impact.” 


The celebration opened with a performance on the Steinway by Pittsburg High School student Samantha Winzer, daughter of faculty Randy and Heather Winzer, who performed on that same Steinway as an elementary student when the Bicknell Center opened, and again at Convocation in 2019. It concluded with a performance by a percussion ensemble from the Department of Music. 

Scott also had time at the microphone to address his guests, reflect on his time here, and express gratitude to his mentors and a fondness for the donors with whom he has developed personal relationships. 

“I can’t imagine how you honored me in this way,” Scott said. “This place has a great past and a bright future.” 


A photo exhibit of Scott and the many relationships he has built is on display in the Bicknell gallery through May 13. 

Scott will retire in June after having served in every capacity on campus: he began as a student, taught as a faculty member, served as a chair and dean, and was provost before being named president in 2009.