Welcome to a new and exciting year at Emporia State. Although it has been a few years since I was an undergraduate, I can still remember the excitement of a new school year, whether arriving on campus for the first time or returning to renew friendships made the previous year.
I am continually looking forward. As we prepare to celebrate Emporia State’s 150th birthday, however, I am enjoying learning about our institution’s rich heritage.
Did you know that Emporia State has had four names during its existence? We were founded on Feb. 15, 1863, as Kansas State Normal School. “Normal school” was a term for a new model of higher education, creating a school specifically to train teachers. You will still find KSN represented on campus. Just walk to the front of Plumb Hall and look up to the medallion at the very top center of the building.
In 1923, we became Kansas State Teachers College, a name that said it all — we were in Kansas, were publicly funded and trained teachers. At 51 years, this name has the longest tenure in our history.
In 1974, we became Emporia Kansas State College; however that quickly changed to Emporia State University in 1977.
Did you know that a young man named Lewis Lindsay Dyche came to KSN in 1874 to become a teacher? Dyche took his knowledge of flora and fauna and became a professor of anatomy and physiology and curator of mammals and birds. Dyche’s taxidermy diorama of animals of North America was exhibited in the Kansas Pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Did you know that while we were KSN we opened two satellite campuses? The western branch opened in 1902 at Hays. It is now Fort Hays State University. In 1903, we opened the Manual Training Auxiliary School in Pittsburg, which now is Pittsburg State University.
Did you know that in 1947, we defeated the University of Kansas men’s basketball team? The KU coach at the time? Phog Allen.
Did you know that for many years, our university had a large number of students, especially football players, from Hawaii thanks to Edward K. Hamada, who earned a teaching degree here in 1959? Hamada returned to his native Hawaii where he taught and coached at his alma mater, ’Iolani School, for more than 30 years.
You can see that Emporia State has been changing lives since 1863.
I am excited for our future, and as we embark on a new academic year, I cannot help but wonder — how will Emporia State change your life?
— Michael D. Shonrock, Ph.D.
Special thanks to Roger Heineken and Gwen Larson for their contributions to this article.