College of Emporia
When I taught at Emporia State, I regularly ran by The College of Emporia campus, known as The Way at that time. In fact, I ran on the track a few times before I was met by a Guardian of The Way who informed me that I was on private property and that I should find another place to run.
College of Emporia was founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1882. It continued as a small liberal arts college on the west side of Emporia for a number of years. At the onset of World War II the college almost closed because of declining enrollment but revived under President Dean Hirschler, and the enrollment stabilized after the war at 400 students. In 1961 faced with a financial crisis, President Joseph Chandler began a major recruiting effort in the East and raised the enrollment to more than 1000 students.
The 1956 Alla Rah, the school yearbook, shows a typical small liberal arts college. The faculty offered around 25 courses of study in which home economics and business administration existed side by side with art, philosophy and organ. The largest number of seniors that year majored in biology, with business administration, history, sociology, Christian education, religion and music also scoring multiple graduates.
Like most liberal arts colleges, College of Emporia sponsored literary societies, and organizations for music, drama, debate, and the arts. By the early 1970’s enrollment had again fallen off seriously, so that in fall 1973 the trustees were forced to close the college at the end of the semester.
Bricks and Mortar
The first college building, Stuart Hall, was built in 1886, and long served as the campus landmark. In 1902 Anderson Memorial Library, the first on-campus Carnegie Library and the first Carnegie library built west of the Mississippi, was dedicated. Mason Gymnasium and the Lewis Hall of Science were added in 1912 and 1914.
However, Stuart Hall burned in 1915. It was replaced by Kenyon Hall, the main administration building, built between 1919 and 1928.
After College of Emporia closed, the campus was purchased by The Way in 1975, and this group operated the campus until 1989. At that time a local investment group, Center of Emporia, purchased the campus and have largely re-purposed it. Anderson Memorial Library has been renovated and now serves as the repository for the archives of Kansas State University. The deteriorating Kenyon Hall is being renovated for housing for senior citizens.
Team Name: Fighting Presbyterians
Colors: Red and White
The Fighting Presbyterians were members of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference until 1923, when they joined the Central Conference. A change of athletic policy made the team less competitive in that conference, so they returned to the KCAC in 1933, remaining until they withdrew in 1970.
College of Emporia fielded teams in football, basketball, and baseball. At times the school also offered track, tennis and golf.
The school had undefeated football seasons in 1953-54-55 under Coach Wayne McConnel, Little All-America coach of the year in 1955. Their only loss during that period was in the Mineral Water Bowl to Hastings 20-14. The 1959 team were 8-1 conference champions and capped that season with a 21-20 win over Austin College in the Mineral Water Bowl. The school also experienced undefeated seasons in 1962-63 under Bill Schneibel, Little All-America Coach of the Year in 1962. Both teams qualified for the NAIA playoffs. The 1962 team lost to Central Oklahoma and the 1963 team lost to St. John’s. In 1966 College of Emporia won the KCAC football championship for a final time.
Postcard view of Kenyon Hall (CardCow <www.cardcow.com/152212/kenyon-hall-way-college-emporia-kansas/>)
(Above) This 1913 College of Emporia team had a 5-2-1 record, winning the State Championship with victories over Ottawa, Fairmont (now Wichita State), Baker, Emporia State, and St.Mary’s. The tie was with Washburn 0-0 in a rain storm. The Fighting Presbyterians lost non-conference games with Haskell Indian Nation School and the University of Colorado. (<interactive.ancestry.com>)