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Kansas State University Salina honors 50 years of higher education, kicks off anniversary celebration at open house

Friday, April 3, 2015

SALINA — The Kansas State University Salina campus established itself on the educational landscape in 1965, and the university will honor its 50 years of tradition starting April 11 with a kickoff to the golden anniversary celebration at the K-State Salina Open House.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., K-State Salina will open its campus to the community to showcase programs, student projects, clubs and achievements. Many of the displays and activities will have a 50th anniversary theme, such as every 50th person that stops by the welcome booth will receive a prize; the gerontology program will exhibit population pyramids from the 1960s; the alumni booth will test visitors' knowledge of campus history; and a special timeline from 1965 through 2015 will be presented in the library. The university also will serve ice cream and cake in honor of the campus's 50 years.

"We are very proud of our campus history and the traditions created throughout the years," said Verna Fitzsimmons, K-State Salina CEO and dean. "Open house is the perfect way to start the 50th anniversary festivities because we want to share the celebration with Salina and the surrounding communities who have supported this campus from the beginning."

The K-State Salina campus was originally established as Schilling Institute on April 26, 1965, on the property previously known as Schilling Air Force Base. Two faculty members from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Henry Neely and Thomas Creech, were tasked with designing the engineering technology degree program. Once the base was officially vacated in summer 1966, Neely, who was appointed the first president, Creech, who was the first director of academic affairs, and the other hired faculty and staff moved onto the campus and acted as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters to make the buildings suitable for students.

Schilling Institute offered two-year degree programs in electronic engineering technology, detail design technology, civil engineering technology, aeronautical technology and computer science technology — the first degree of its kind in the state of Kansas. In 1968, the college graduated its first 10 students.

The campus was renamed Kansas Technical Institute in 1969 and added seven more academic programs. In 1988, it went through another name change to Kansas College of Technology, and then three years later merged with Kansas State University. Since becoming part of the university system, the campus has transformed most of its certificate programs and associate degrees into bachelor's degrees and one Professional Master of Technology. K-State Salina also has added two residence halls, the College Center and the Student Life Center, and continues to modernize the former base buildings with renovations in the Welcome Center and currently in the unmanned aircraft systems building and the professional education and outreach facility.

"I still think very highly of the campus and I'm interested in watching the progress," Creech said. "What K-State Salina is today is the vision of what we started with in 1965, and our vision has been fulfilled."

K-State Salina will continue its 50th anniversary celebration throughout the year with a variety of signature events on campus, including a history-focused Civic Luncheon Lecture, a formal dinner and dancing celebration, a faculty and staff awards showcase and an art and science wine walk.

The public is encouraged to attend the golden anniversary launch at open house, with parking in the south lot next to the College Center. There is no admission fee.

For more information on the K-State Salina Open House and its events, contact Kirsten Zoller at 785-826-7182 or visit the open house website at http://www.salina.k-state.edu/openhouse. For inquiries about K-State Salina's history, contact Julee Cobb, communications and alumni coordinator, at julee@k-state.edu or 785-826-2642.


Kirsten Zoller


Golden anniversary

News tip


Written by

Julee Cobb

At a glance

The K-State Salina Open House, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 11, will mark the start of another celebration on the campus: its golden anniversary.