Pittsburg State University has announced that the 300-meter track in the new Robert W. Plaster Center has been named the Harvey Dean Track in recognition of a major gift from Harvey Dean, a PSU alumnus who is the founder and CEO of Pitsco, Inc., a company that provides hands-on curriculum solutions for students across the U.S. and abroad.
“This track is one of the best of its kind in the U.S. and is a significant reason that PSU was chosen to host the 2016 and 2018 NCAA Division II National Track Championships and the 2017 and 2019 NJCAA National Championships,” said Kendall Gammon, director of development for intercollegiate athletics.
The Harvey Dean Track is one of just six collegiately owned 300-meter tracks in the U.S. It is composed of the same Mondo Super X Performance synthetic rubber surface as that used in eight of the most recent Olympic games.
The public will get their first opportunity to see the new track at the Plaster Center ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 21.
Dean said he's looking forward to watching student athletes run on the new, high-tech track in the Plaster Center and knows when he does, he'll be thinking of a handful of kids at a small Oklahoma school many years ago.
“I was 22 and right out of college, teaching at a small junior high and high school,” Dean recalled. “They didn't have a track program and I started one. We didn't even have a track. They just ran around the football field.”
The first year was hard.
“I was a miserable failure and almost all of the kids quit,” Dean said.
Not ready to give up, Dean made a call to legendary track coach Bob Timmons for advice. Timmons recommended a book, which Dean read and then resolved to try again. He convinced the students to come back for another year with a new approach.
Dean's new method put the responsibility on each individual while he promised to provide the guidance and support each student needed. Every day of practice, Dean said, he gave each student a 3x5 card with specific things to work on, but it was up to them to put in the effort needed to succeed.
“I can't win these track meets for you,” Dean told the students. “You've got to be the person who owns this.”
The students responded and success followed. In his fourth and final year at the school, his team was runner-up for the state championship.
Dean said he took the things he learned from these early years and has incorporated them into his philosophy for running a successful company and even into the development of some of the company's most successful products.
Since Dean founded Pitsco in 1971, more than 160 million students have experienced science, technology, engineering and math products purchased from the company. Dean was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc., magazine and in 2012, Pitsco was selected the Governor's Exporter of the Year for the state of Kansas. Dean received the Small Press Book Award for his book, “Changing Education.”
Dean holds a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, an Ed.S., and a doctorate in education. He earned both his MS and Ed.S. from PSU.
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