Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public, co-educational university located in Hays, Kansas, United States. It is the fourth-largest of the six state universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, with an enrollment of approximately 11,200 students (4,000 undergraduate, 1,200 graduate, and 6,000 online students).
FHSU was founded in 1902 as the Western Branch of Kansas State Normal School which is now known as Emporia State University. The institution was originally located on the grounds of Fort Hays, a frontier military outpost that was closed in 1889. The university served the early settlers' needs for educational facilities in the new region. The first building closer to Hays was completed in 1904, at which time the university moved to its present location. The modern campus is still located on a portion of the former military reservation from the fort. FHSU was first to be founded as an agricultural based school but was then determined to be a normal school. The normal school was supposed to be supported in part by the agricultural experiment station. For years the University Dairy Unit supplied to school cafeteria with fresh milk.
During the Great Flood of 1951 a tributary of the Kansas River flooded nearly all of campus forcing a midnight evacuation.
The main campus sits on 200 acres (0.81 km2) of the 4,160 acres (16.8 km2) owned by the state and deeded to the university. The campus property includes more than 40 limestone-faced buildings. Big Creek, a winding stream that traverses the campus, not only enhances the beauty of the campus, but also serves as a natural laboratory for students in the biological sciences. The campus is located just to the west of the Hays business district, two miles (3 km) south of Interstate 70. Several businesses in downtown Hays cater specifically to FHSU students.
In addition to supporting the general needs of faculty, staff and students, Forsyth Library has a large collection of fiction and nonfiction material about Kansas and the American West, supported in part by the Elmer and Eartha Pugh Trust Fund. Topics include railroads, the cattle industry, cowboys, Native Americans and frontier life.
The William D. Pashchal World War II History Collection, donated by retired dentist William Paschal, contains books, declassified government documents, maps, photographs, and other materials.
The library is also the repository for the books, papers and periodicals of the Fort Hays Genealogy Society.
The university's Sternberg Museum of Natural History features interactive natural science exhibitions, many traveling and temporary exhibitions, an acclaimed Discovery Room, and a Museum Store. The museum houses over 100,000 square feet (10,000 m2) of dinosaurs, fossils, prehistoric animals, giant sea-swimming lizards and fish that inhabited Kansas over 70-80 million years ago. The Sternberg Museum also includes more than 3.7 million specimens in collections of paleontology, geology, history, archaeology, ethnology, botany, entomology, ichthyology, herpetology, ornithology and mammalogy. One will find that all these major exhibits contain at least one creature/plant named after Sternberg.
The university's museum was renamed the Sternberg Memorial Museum after the death in 1969 of George Sternberg, who had developed it. The current museum was formed in 1991 when the university's museum was merged with the Museum of the High Plains.
The museum is the home of the famous Cretaceous fossil Gillicus in Xiphactinus, better known as the "fish within a fish," which shows a small fossil fish inside the stomach of a larger fossil fish.
In 2010, researchers at the museum showed that plankton-eating fish flourished in the ocean at the same time as the dinosaurs, filling in a 106-million-year gap in the fossil record. One of the authors of the paper was Mike Everhart, a curator of paleontology at the museum.
FHSU comprises four colleges (Arts and Sciences, Business and Leadership, Education and Technology, and Health and Life Sciences) which together have 30 departments and offer more than 60 academic majors for undergraduates and 19 for graduate students. Students at FHSU can obtain Associate's degrees in office technology and radiologic technology; do their preprofessional study at FHSU then transfer to a medical or law school; obtain bachelor's and master's degrees; and in some areas of the curriculum, can earn specialist's degrees.
FHSU also offers online degrees through its "Virtual College". The "Virtual College" evolved from the Department of Continuing Education and Learning Technology in 1999. It is responsible for offering a variety of online courses and degrees to students that are not able to be on campus. The Virtual College currently offers 19 bachelor's degrees and 10 master's degrees online. It also offers endorsements and certificates online. It is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Virtual College" has strategic partnerships with the military, community colleges across the country, and universities world wide. Recently, over 5,800 students from over 27 countries, and ranging in age from 18 to over 70 were enrolled in the Virtual College.
Fort Hays State University is one of only two universities in the state of Kansas that offer agriculture as a major. The Agriculture Department is composed of two majors, the Agriculture Business major and the Agriculture major. The Agriculture major has five different options for students to choose from: Agricultural Education, Agronomy, Beef Cattle Management, General Agriculture and Animal Science. The Head of Agriculture at FHSU is Dr. John Greathouse, who also teaches a few courses offered in the Ag Department. There are also numerous clubs for students to participate in, such as: Agronomy Club, Ag Business, Block & Bridle, Livestock Judging Team, Rodeo Club, Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club, DTA and AGR. There is also a University Farm that includes dairy, sheep, swine, beef and crop units located just west of the university that is used for educational purposes and research for different classes.
The Docking Institute is a public policy research institute whose mission is to enhance effective decision-making among governmental and non-profit leaders. The Institute has six focus areas:
Fort Hays State athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), except for wrestling, which competes as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). The Fort Hays State basketball program holds several national basketball titles; the men's team claimed national championships in 1984 and 1985 (NAIA), back to back, and in 1996 (NCAA Division II) with a remarkable 34 and 0 record. The women's team also brought home the national title in 1991 (NAIA). FHSU Shooting Team won 3rd place in 2009 in the American Trap event at the National ACUI competition.
FHSU's mascot is the Tiger and has been the mascot of FHSU since 1914. No one knows for certain how it came to be FHSU's mascot, but the Tiger may have been the brainchild of W.A. Lewis, the president of the Western Branch Normal School (FHSU). Many tigers have represented FHSU over the years, but on April 3, 2000, the current mascot was unveiled. It is now the only acceptable image of the FHSU Tiger. At the annual TailGreat on Sept. 9, 2000, the mascot was officially named Victor E. Tiger. The costumed tiger character, Victor E. Tiger, appears at sporting and university events and is currently worn by Dawna Evers, a Senior at the university.
Oktoberfest & Homecoming Weekend
Each year, Fort Hays State holds an annual celebration called Oktoberfest. It is a celebration of the Volga German heritage of Ellis County. It is held at Frontier Park in downtown Hays on the Friday before FHSU’s homecoming. For entertainment, there is polka music and various booths that serve a variety of German food and beer. The first keg is tapped around 11:00 a.m. which officially begins Oktoberfest. There is also a homecoming parade on Saturday morning where student organizations decorate floats or walk in the parade for FHSU spirit. The homecoming football game begins Saturday afternoon.
As of December 2006, nearly all of FHSU had wireless access. The network has three tiers of access: one for faculty, one for students, and one for guests. FHSU recently began to transform itself to a "mobile computing environment," allowing students and faculty to interface via a campus-wide wireless network.
Students of FHSU have access to TigerTracks, Fort Hays State University's Web portal. TigerTracks provides centralized access to student G-Mail e-mail, the Blackboard course delivery system, announcements, and other FHSU Online Services through a customizable homepage. The Online Services section of TigerTracks provides access to the TigerEnroll system, class schedules, adviser contact information, financial aid status, grades, personal contact and emergency notification information, and much more.
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