Ardith Rooney Dunn looked for a college that would fulfill her two passions in life: math and athletics.
"I decided in high school that I wanted to be a math teacher and coach," Dunn (1981 graduate) said. "I had a really good teacher, and I wanted students to enjoy math as much as I had."
When first looking at Friends University, there was no women's basketball team offered, so she chose to attend Delta State University in Mississippi on a basketball scholarship. However, the distance caused her parents to miss most of her games. When she found out Friends University had implemented women’s basketball, she transferred.
Closer to home and a Christian university, she found it to be a wonderful experience, she said.
"I think the positive Christian environment and role models at Friends University make for a great educational experience and exhibit a family and caring atmosphere that have helped me throughout my career," Dunn said.
Friends University is also where Dunn met her husband, to whom she has been happily married for 28 years now. With a degree in agriculture, he is a successful and respected farmer and a wonderful husband and father, she said.
Dunn recalls many special memories from Friends University: Helping throw her basketball coach into the swimming pool only to find out that he really couldn’t swim, and getting a helping hand from then-University president Hal Cope when Dunn was trying to push a car out of the snow.
Dunn stayed busy throughout school playing volleyball, softball, track and basketball, and her parents were fortunately able to attend almost all her games.
"High expectations set by Friends University faculty and coaches only reinforced my work ethic and helped me further develop my goals and personal values," Dunn said.
Dunn double-majored in health and physical education and math. After graduating in 1981, Dunn received her first full-time position in the Flagler School District, where she taught math and computer classes and served as coach for volleyball, basketball and track. Two years later she switched to the Satanta (Kansas) School District, where she continued teaching and coaching. In 2003, she was promoted to the Satanta superintendent.
Still serving as superintendent, her duties and responsibilities include curriculum director, public relations coordinator, supervisor of financial decisions for the district, supervisor and evaluator of district personnel and building principals, supervisor of district transportation, and ensuring that the mission of the school district is carried out to provide students with the best education possible.
She has received several recognitions for her hard work and dedication over the years. Her awards include Teacher of the Year in 1983, Coach of the Year in 1991, Friends University Hall of Fame Inductee in 1999, Educator of the Year in 1999, participant in the Kansas Leadership for Tomorrow program in 2007, and the 2007 Friends University Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dunn was also voted onto the board of trustees for Friends University in October 2008.
“It is an honor and I look forward to the experience,” Dunn said. She is eager to start serving on the Student Affairs Committee and University Relations Committee.
She loves working alongside people she has known for years and says that being in the field of education is very rewarding. She plans to continue working at Satanta as superintendent and would like to complete her doctorate in education.
Friends University seems to be a perfect fit for the Dunns, with Dunn’s son Jayme a graduate of 2008, son Jason currently a junior, and youngest son Joshua contemplating between the U.S. Air Force Academy and Friends University.
"When applying for teaching jobs, I have found that a degree from Friends University is very highly regarded," Dunn said. "It is reassuring to know that your undergraduate work prepared you for your first job."