Sep 14, 2021 12:02 PM

KWU to celebrate 135th anniversary Wednesday

Posted Sep 14, 2021 12:02 PM


After what is being touted as one of the most notable years in university history, Kansas Wesleyan will celebrate the 135th anniversary of its founding Wednesday morning.

Wednesday’s gathering will begin at 11 a.m. in the Student Activities Center. The event is open to students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni and friends of the university. As in all campus buildings, face coverings are required indoors regardless of vaccination status.

KWU comes off a 2020-21 school year that included three national championships in debate and forensics, two top-three finishers in international DECA competition, and its second straight KCAC Commissioner’s Cup in athletics. In August, the university welcomed its highest count of new, full-time undergraduate students ever.

“It’s been a truly wonderful year at Kansas Wesleyan,” said Ken Oliver, vice president of Advancement and university operations. “We couldn’t have accomplished all of this without the support of our alumni, friends and the Salina community. We are so thankful to be a part of this city! Now, we look to the future and even more exciting news, as we get ready to build for the next 135 years. We truly believe that the best is yet to come!”

Following are some of the highlights from the university's history, courtesy the Memorial Library.

1886, Sept. 15: The Administration Building is completed and opens its doors to the first class of 2 college students (one senior and one freshman), 61 students in preparatory classes, 25 in music, 20 in business, 9 in normal school, 27 in training school. Tuition and fees are $13.00. Most students live in Salina with host families or in rented rooms.

1887: H. M. Mayo is the first graduate of Kansas Wesleyan.

1891: C. W. Burch is the first graduate to complete all of his work at Kansas Wesleyan.

1893: The first informal “pick-up” game of football is played against Baker University. Baker wins, 44-0. Student injuries are so severe that administration and faculty ban football for the next five years. Baseball is the only varsity sport for many years.

1908: Carnegie Science Hall opens.

1911: Glenn Martin flies his self-built plane over southern Salina, near campus. Martin attended Kansas Wesleyan, but later moves to California, establishes several aircraft and aerospace companies, and becomes a major benefactor of Kansas Wesleyan.

1922-1930: The Hall of the Pioneers and Sams Chapel are built over a period of years.

1928: The Grafton-Clubb mural “The Coming of the Pioneers” in Sams Chapel is dedicated.

1948: Memorial Library is built and dedicated to the 24 students who died serving their country in World War II. Students form a line from the Carnegie Science Hall to shift the book collection, one tray at a time, to the new library.

1953: Earl C. Sams Hall of Fine Arts is dedicated.

1958: KWU is accredited by the North Central Association. KWU is continuously accredited by NCA, now called HLC (Higher Learning Commission), to the present day.

1968: Enrollment hits 800. Many male students are shuttled to campus from rented barracks at the former Schilling Air Base because the campus residence halls are full.

1969: Peters Science Hall is completed.

1987: King Gymnasium burns down. The building had been condemned but there were plans to remove the clock tower before demolishing the structure. The cause of the fire was reported to be of a “suspicious nature.”