K-State Salina professor releases inaugural book chronicling the first all-women's college in Kansas
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014
SALINA — From advocating women's education in the early 1900s to hosting John F. Kennedy on campus, Kansas State University Salina language arts professor Pat Ackerman writes about the special past of her alma mater in her book "Marymount College of Kansas: A History," which was released Nov. 18.
Ackerman's inaugural book is a product of her university sabbatical taken over the course of six months last year. Ackerman not only wanted to pay homage to the institution she graduated from in 1978, but she also wanted to set an example for her own students in research, writing and women's studies.
Initially, Ackerman, who is also a freelance writer, was interviewing the Marrs family — current Marymount residents who purchased part of the property in 1993 — as part of a story she was working on for Sunflower Living magazine. The Marrs family mentioned to Ackerman that Marymount College is filled with one-of-a-kind stories that belong in a book. Once she began digging deeper into its past, Ackerman realized Marymount College's story was one she had to tell.
"Even before women had the right to vote, the Sisters of St. Joseph had the foresight to understand the need for women's education in Kansas with Reverend Mother Antoinette Cuff spearheading the charge to make Marymount College a reality," Ackerman said. "Mother Antoinette was so determined she even petitioned Pope Benedict XV for funding assistance."
The Sisters of St. Joseph migrated to Concordia, Kansas, from France in the late 1800s and decided, in the midst of their overcrowded female boarding school, they also needed another facility to educate the nuns who were teaching the girls. Salina was the chosen location and building began on what would be Kansas' first all-women's college.
Ackerman's book follows the institution's paper trail, from its founding days to highlighted moments like John F. Kennedy's visit in 1959 as part of his pre-campaign tour for the presidency. Ackerman also finds connections between Marymount College and Kansas State University.
"Marymount and K-State had a very collaborative relationship, including a group of faculty from the College of Education assisting with Marymount's development of programs and K-State offering graduate-level courses on Marymount's campus," Ackerman said. "There is even documentation that reveals K-State was discussing the idea of making Marymount its satellite campus when it closed, but there were concerns about deferred maintenance and its landlocked location."
Marymount College closed in 1989.
Ackerman's book is being published by The History Press from Charleston, South Carolina. She will have several appearances in central Kansas to give presentations and sign her book. Her book tour schedule includes:
• Saturday, Nov. 22, 2-4 p.m., at the Smoky Hill Museum, Salina.
• Tuesday, Dec. 2, 6-8 p.m., Rivendell Bookstore, Abilene.
• Saturday, Dec. 6, 4-8 p.m., St. Andrew's Church, Abilene.
• Sunday, Dec. 7, 1-7 p.m., St. Andrew's Church, Abilene.
• Saturday, Dec. 13, 2-4 p.m., Books-A-Million, Salina.
Ackerman is a first-generation college student who completed a bachelor's degree in English and journalism from Marymount College and obtained her master's degree in liberal studies with a specialization in composition and rhetoric from Fort Hays State University. She has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in reading and language arts, from Kansas State University's College of Education. Ackerman started teaching at K-State Salina in the fall of 2000; she was the director of the campus's Writing Center for six years and currently serves as the coordinator of the Faculty Resource Center.
Ackerman says one of the common themes that emerged from her research and then writing of "Marymount College of Kansas: A History" is the idea that education has the power to raise women above their circumstances.
"Marymount College was a symbol of hope for young women more than 90 years ago and it set my feet on a path of lifelong learning," Ackerman said.