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KWU Timeline

1885: The Conference of Northwest Kansas raises $3,500 to fund a new college. Several cities vie for the location of the new college, but Salina’s offer of 15 acres and $26,000 is accepted. 

1886 | Sept. 15: The Administration Building opens its doors to the first class of two (one senior and one freshman) and 61 students in preparatory classes. Tuition and fees are $13 per term. There are 11 faculty members.

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

“It is the strength acquired by meeting the obstacles and overcoming them that makes us better and stronger men and women. It is the victory over those obstacles that gives us the courage for life’s best work.”
—Rev. H.M. Mayo, 1887 Graduation Speech

1890: Two student publications, the Wesleyan Lance and the Kansas Wesleyan Advocate, merge to form the Wesleyan Advance.

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

1909: University Methodist Church is organized to serve the university and south Salina, with services held in the KWU Administration Building until 1917, when the present structure was built.

1911: Glenn Martin flies his self-built plane over southern Salina, near campus. Martin attended Kansas Wesleyan Business College in 1908, but later moved to California, establishing several aircraft and aerospace companies.

1916: King Gymnasium opens with a swimming pool and gymnasium. The face of the clock, salvaged from the destructive fire in 1987, is preserved in the Advancement Office in the Hall of the Pioneers.

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

1928: The KCAC is formed with KWU, Bethany, Ottawa, Baker, McPherson and St. Mary’s.

1928: Ruple Perkins of Athens, OH, a running back for the Coyotes, is the first African-American to play college football in Kansas. Despite discrimination by teams that refused to take the field with him, he earned All-KCAC First Team honors his freshman and sophomore years.

1930: Tuition, room and board is $400 a year.

1936: Marking its 50th anniversary, KWU has grown to 24 faculty members and a student body of 450.

1940: Glenn Martin Stadium is built with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor, including KWU students. The football team wins the KCAC Championship.

“I studied Business Administration and played football for three years. We played the whole 60 minutes. The entire team was 20 players. We won the school’s first KCAC Championship in 1940. I also helped build Martin Stadium as a Works Project Administration project and got paid 25 cents an hour. Only three students on campus had a car back then.”—Bill Keeler ’44

1948: Memorial Library is built and dedicated to the 24 students who died in World War II. Students help transport the books from Carnegie Science Hall to the new building.

1956: KWU is accredited by the North Central Association, now called the Higher Learning Commission (HLC); KWU continues this accreditation today.

“The women’s dorm, Pfeiffer Hall, had curfew hours. Miss Jean Bradley, the Housemother, stood inside the front door … and she locked it exactly at 10:30 p.m. or midnight! If you were to approach Pfeiffer Hall’s front door around 10:20 p.m. on weeknights—or 11:50 p.m. on Saturday—you would see a bevy of couples within 20 or 30 yards of the front entryway. Obviously, they would be shaking hands and bidding each other ‘Good Night.’”—Bob Pinkall ’58

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

1968: Women’s athletics begins with the formation of the Association of Kansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports.

1969: A men’s dorm is opened. It was called “New Men’s Dorm” until the mid-1990s, when it was renamed Wesley Hall.

1978: KWU Kansas Delta chapter of Alpha Chi honor society is chartered.

1979: Muir Gymnasium is built.

“I remember the games, the lectures, the connection to the University Church and many more things that made Kansas Wesleyan feel like home. My most embarrassing moment was when I blew up a microscope in Dr. Neuberger’s microbiology class. I went on to graduate in 1977 with a B.S., simultaneously with my R.N. diploma from Asbury Hospital School of Nursing.”
—Jerri Phillips ’77, ’92, ’07

1986: The KWU Athletics Hall of Fame is launched with 100 inductees to celebrate KWU’s 100th anniversary.

1988: KWU acquires the Asbury nursing program, located at Asbury-Salina Regional Medical Center. In 1994, the program moved to campus.

“When I arrived at Kansas Wesleyan in 1980, I was an inner city kid from Newark, NJ, coming from a single-parent household. I was the first one in my family to attend college. I remember Homecoming, Lilac Fete, the Christmas concerts and dinner at a professor’s house for those who couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving. I learned not only how to live alone but also how to live a life at Wesleyan.”—John Brooks ’84

1994: MBA program is launched; fiber optic cable is run to most of the buildings on campus.

“Being in choir was the greatest joy for me at KWU, and choir tour was one of my favorite experiences. The musical performances were fun, but the bus trip and traveling with my friends was the best.”—Amanda (Montgomery) Gutierrez ’92

2006: The first Project HERO day, the brainchild of two seniors, is organized by the Student Activity Board, and continues annually.

2008: The Student Activities Center opens and includes the Hauptli Student Center, Brown Mezzanine, Mabee Arena, Muir Gymnasium, The Den and Yotee’s Bookstore.

2010: Communication students launch the first Internet radio broadcast of KKWU.

2011: The Albert Nelson Student Success Center opens in Memorial Library.

2014: Demolition begins on Glenn Martin Stadium to make way for the new sports complex.

2014: Wesleyan Journey program is launched. Every qualified student can have an academic and intentional service experience, with travel in or outside the U.S. First courses are in Costa Rica during fall break.

2015: $1.2 million of technology upgrades expand Wi-Fi and fund installation of new fiber cable in every campus building.

2015: The Graves Family Sports Complex stadium opens Oct. 3 to a record crowd of 2,011; legendary coach Gene Bissell helped cut the ribbon as the new Gene Bissell Field was dedicated.

2015: KWU  forms the only marching band in the KCAC.

2016: Three fully online bachelor’s degrees are launched: Criminal Justice, Emergency Management and M.B.A.