Governor Jeff Colyer was sworn in as the 47th governor of Kansas at 3 p.m. January 31 in the Capitol rotunda in Topeka, accompanied by First Lady Ruth Colyer and their daughters, Serena and Dominique. Governor Colyer attended mass in Hays that morning with his classmates from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School. He then visited West Side Alternative School, which is also in Hays.
Governor Colyer said, “This public school is a unique partnership with the High Plains Mental Health Center that ensures special needs kids have the same opportunities for success as any other Kansan.”
TMP Chaplain Father Earl Befort, who has been with the school for 48 years, said he recalls Colyer as a good student academically who was outgoing and friendly.
“He was very much a classmate and friend, and someone you could really count on to do the right thing,” Befort said.
Colyer was one student who showed promise to do great things, Befort said.
“I think you always see in certain students that they’re going to do well, they’re going to have a good profession and be good people. He was one of those,” he said.
Befort said those are characteristics he’s seen grow in Colyer, citing his volunteer work.
“If anything, it’s become more prominent in his life, the importance of honesty and integrity. Those types of things were important then, and I think they still are,” Befort said.
When asked about his inauguration, Governor Colyer said, “Throughout my life I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve in a variety of ways including as a doctor, humanitarian and lieutenant governor. I’m excited to begin serving Kansans in an even greater way today as the governor of this beautiful state.”
Colyer, 57, is a fifth generation Kansan from Hays who is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives on the personal, state, national and international level. Over the last 25 years, Dr. Colyer has volunteered, as a surgeon, in dangerous war zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, Libya, and Africa. He was an International Medical Corps volunteer and the only surgeon in southern Rwanda during the genocide that killed 800,000 people.
Colyer also served as a White House Fellow under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush in international affairs.
He served two years in the Kansas House and another two years in the state Senate before being elected on Brownback’s ticket in 2010.
He’s been waiting to assume the role as governor for six months, ever since President Donald Trump nominated Gov. Sam Brownback to be Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom in July. The U.S. Senate finally confirmed Brownback in late January.
Colyer is a pro-lifer who recently expressed dismay that the U.S. Congress had not passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks – at which time it has been shown the unborn baby can feel pain. Listing the seven countries in the world that allow abortions after 20 weeks (China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Netherlands, United States), he noted “We should not be a part of this list. I call on the US Senate to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
He has promised a new tone for Kansas.
“I will set a tone and insist on an environment of openness, honesty and respect and without harassment, especially in this building,” Colyer said. “When others blame and complain, I will be busy working for you and finding solutions.”
Colyer holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in international relations from Cambridge University, and a medical doctorate from the University of Kansas, School of Medicine.
Colyer and his wife, Ruth, have three daughters, Alexandra, Serena and Dominique.