Kansas State University can trace its history to February 9, 1858, when the founding settlers of Manhattan, led by Issac, Goodnow and Joseph Denison, cognizant of the need to form an agricultural school, obtained from the Territory of Kansas a charter creating Bluemont Central College "to establish in addition to the literary department of arts and sciences, an agricultural department with separate professors to test soils, experiment in the raising of crops, the cultivation of trees, and upon a farm set apart for the purpose, so as to bring out the utmost practical result, the agricultural advantages of Kansas, especially the capabilities of its high prairie lands."
Five years later, the new State of Kansas accepted the offer of the trustees of the College to transfer to it land, buildings and other assets for the establishment of a land-grant institution under the provisions of the first federal Morill Act of 1862. On September 2, 1863, fifty-two men and women enrolled in Kansas State Agricultural College, one of the nation's first land-grant universities, under Joseph Denison as the first president. The institution became Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science in 1931, and adopted its present name of Kansas State University on March 20, 1959.
The Department of Chemistry is rich in history and tradition. First established as the Department of Chemistry and Physics in 1873 under the direction of Professor William, K. Kedzie, it at once became a prominent feature of the new College. The department, with a single lecture room and laboratory, a barrel for a water supply and other comparable facilities, occupied the north side of the second floor of the original Bluemont College building in 1876, when the college moved to its present location on the main campus.
Since the establishment of chemistry as a separate discipline in 1885, the department has been a leader in research and innovation. The Department of Chemistry performed important original research in several areas, many of which were either later incorporated into other programs, or evolved into separate departments such as the Agricultural Experiment Station (1887), Grain Science (1910), Chemical Engineering (1939), and Biochemistry (1961). The first Ph.D. conferred at Kansas State University was awarded to Hugh Stanley Caroll of the Department of Chemistry on June 1, 1933.
Recognition of the importance of chemistry developed to such an extent that a building for the pursuit of the science was erected in 1876, and occupied until 1900 when the interior as destroyed by fire. The building was remodeled, modernized, and reoccupied from 1911 until 1939 and referred to during that time as Chemistry Annex No. 1. During that same period, the Chemistry Department was principally housed in Denison Hall (1902-1934) and Waters Hall (Chemistry Annex No. 2). The Department of Chemistry presently occupies and carries out research in a modern complex of three buildings: Willard Hall (1939), King Hall (1967), and the Chemistry/Biochemistry Complex (1988), which is shown here.
Today, Kansas State University enrolls more than 21,000 students in its several colleges, the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate School. The Department of Chemistry continues to be recognized as one of the University's leaders in research and instruction. Throughout the more than 100 years that Chemistry has been in existence on this campus, two characteristics have been shared by its faculty: enthusiasm for chemical research and excellence in teaching. The Department remains dedicated to these traditions as we enter the 21st century and open to all of the exciting new discoveries the future will bring.
A chronological listing of the department heads