The university first arrived on the map in 1858 as Bluemont Central College, with 50 students enrolled. Kansas State Agricultural College was founded on February 16, 1863 as a Land Grant institution under the Morrill Act. There is an argument as to whether K-State is the United States’ very first land grant institution, but it certainly was among the first to be established after the Act’s passage in 1862.
The university moved to its present site in Manhattan, KS in 1875. The following year Holtz Hall was built, now the oldest freestanding building on campus. Another signature building, Anderson Hall, was erected in three stages between 1877 and 1884. The building houses the university’s administrative offices and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
K-State’s early years were defined by a debate over whether the college should provide a focused agricultural education or a full liberal arts education in the New England tradition. President John A. Anderson (1873-1879), for instance, favored a more professionally-minded education, whereas President George T. Fairchild (1879-1897) favored a classic liberal arts education. In 1882, the study of home economics originated at Kansas State.
The name of the school was changed in 1931 to Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science. Then, in 1959, the name was changed again to Kansas State University to accommodate the recently-added graduate programs. The 1950’s saw a lot of campus expansion, including K-State’s residence halls and a student union. Enrollment was relatively high through most of the 1970’s, fell in the mid-1980’s, and picked up again after 1986, when Dr. Jon Wefald assumed the presidency. Under Wefald, enrollment and donations increased, and an innovative student recruitment office was introduced, which drew students from all over the country and expanded the international student program.
K-State is now home to more than 23,000 students studying over 250 different majors.
K-State’s campus is spread out on 664 acres centered around the administration and academic buildings, with residences and other buildings on the outskirts. Historic buildings include Holtz Hall, built in 1875, and Anderson Hall, built between 1877 and 1884. The campus is home to 60 academic departments in nine colleges.
“K-State has a very accessible campus that makes it easy for students to pass the time when they are not in class. Before, between, and after classes, you're sure to find quite a few students in Hale Library. Whether they are using one of the many computers stationed around the building, camped out at a table discussing a group project, or found a vacant couch for a quick nap, each of Hale's five floors is usually bustling with students. It's your lucky day if you can beat others up to the fourth floor to secure an entire study alcove for yourself. It's also a smart move to try to claim one of the computer desks tucked away in a corner of each floor of the stacks; not many students venture into this area, so it's a sure bet for a quiet workspace. With many options for study or naptime, without a doubt, Hale Library is K-State's most used on-campus hangout.
Another sure-fire way to find a big group of K-Staters is to head into the Student Union, particularly around lunchtime. The Union's massive food court, with choices like Taco Bell, Panda Express, and Chick-Fil-A, is an easy destination for a quick lunch. It's often difficult to find a free table in front of one of the huge TV screens, so you might consider snagging your lunch to go and heading downstairs for a table. Or, if it's a nice day, get yourself outside to enjoy the weather and our beautiful campus. Just watch out for the squirrels who may try to share your lunch!
If you are outside and looking for another popular hangout, walk past Hale to the Quad. If the weather's right, you might see a class camped out on the lawn, only half-heartedly listening to their instructor, and likely more interested in the game of Frisbee golf going on around them. You'll see a surveying class outside trying to get some work done, or maybe some horticulture students out pruning the bushes or learning about the trees. Either way, you certainly won't be the only student enjoying the lawn.
Next, take a stroll over to Memorial Stadium, on the western edge of campus. The tall stone facade will give you the feeling you're entering your own private fortress, but once you make your way around, you'll see that the turf is likely packed with people. Maybe the marching band is out practicing for another season or the rugby or soccer clubs are working out. You'll see students out running laps around the historic (but no longer used for major campus sporting events) football field or running stairs up and down the concrete steps of the stands.
If being outdoors isn't your thing, then trot back across the street to the Student Union, but this time go straight downstairs. You'll find a bowling alley, pool tables, arcade games, and a Subway. Many students head here to unwind between classes by bowling a few frames or shooting some pool restaurant. Even more students, especially underclassmen, flock here on Friday nights for AfterHours, an inexpensive way to see a movie, do some bowling, or just chat with fellow students.
K-State is located in Manhattan, Kansas, which is known as the “Little Apple.” It is a small place of roughly 50,000 inhabitants, and Manhattan is absolutely a college town. Residents are said to be very friendly and have a lot of school spirit and students frequently venture off campus to eat party, or shop.
Manhattan, surrounded on either side by rolling prairies and lakes, is also conveniently close enough to larger cities like Topeka and Kansas City. In Manhattan itself, students spend time in Aggieville, or the ‘Ville, the downtown shopping and bar district, at the mall, or in one of several parks.
Contrary to popular belief (particularly the beliefs of those that hail from larger metropolises, such as Kansas City), there are plenty of things to do and places to go in Manhattan, KS. The bar scene has come to dominate Aggieville in the recent past, however there are still a few brave business owners who are working hard to keep the shopping aspect alive with their unique and friendly stores. You can also find a couple of lively little coffee shops that make a great place for a needed caffeine pick-me-up, a business meeting, or, with the free wireless internet access, studying. The proprietors are very friendly and sympathetic to the caffeine-deprived, so you’re guaranteed to leave having had at least one friendly conversation. Take your coffee to go and stroll through the well-known used bookstore (make sure you pause to pet the cats!), make your own custom T-shirt, or pick out some wacky gag gifts. Or go get something pierced… or tattooed! You can find all of this and more down in Aggieville during the day.
The Aggieville business district is unique, but that’s not what makes it famous. At night, K-State students flock to the bars and traffic is intense - don’t be surprised if you have to park at least six blocks away if you don’t get there early enough! Whether you are planning to park yourself in front of a TV to watch a sports game, go two-stepping, enjoy comedy hour, or simply take advantage of the drink specials, there is literally a bar for every personality.
If you don’t want to drink alcohol, you can head over to Seth Childs Cinema (about as far across town from the drunken antics of the ‘Ville as possible). The show times range from early afternoon to late at night, so it’s definitely easy to find one that will fit into your schedule. This is the closest big movie theater for at 45 minutes to an hour’s drive, and many students take advantage of it. If you’re from a small town (as many of us K-Staters are), the ticket prices will probably seem a little steep, especially compared to the $3.50 tickets you grew up with at the drive-in, but it’s the best Manhattan has to offer.
If you’re lucky enough to have a day off when the weather is nice (though, in Kansas, these can be few and far between), spend some time at one of several lakes in the area. The closest and probably most accessible for students is Tuttle Creek Lake, at the north end of town. During the summer, you’ll find students swimming, fishing, or just lying out, trying to catch some sun. The often low water levels and current dam construction are not always conducive to boating hence the nickname, ‘Tuttle Puddle,’ but if you happen to know someone with a boat, you can give it a valiant effort, nonetheless.
If you’re not much of an outdoorsman/woman, don’t fret. You can always spend time at the mall. Though the shopping options are certainly not quite as extensive as, say, a Kansas City mall, there are definitely enough possibilities to keep you entertained for a good while. Manhattan is, after all, very much focused around the college student. Many students choose to pass the time here, if they aren’t already employed by the mall, so you will certainly find yourself in good company.
Held each spring, Open House traces its origin to several older college events like Home Economics Hospitality Day, Engineers' Open House, and Ag Day. On the given day, there are a wide range of academic exhibits, sports, concerts and other entertainment. Thousands of people roam the campus enjoying the school spirit and merriment. Former US Senator Bob Dole spoke at the first all-university Open House in 1969.
More traditions, as reported by Leah Peppiatt ’09, are as follows:
The Wabash is a simple maneuver to learn, performed at football games when a certain song is played. This piece of music happens to be the only band music to survive a campus fire a few decades ago. Watch the person beside you and lean forward when he/she leans back, then alternate in rhythm to the song. It's quite entertaining to watch the sea of students clad in purple doing the Wabash at a football or basketball game.
This unofficial tradition is very unlikely unique to K-State, but because of the large student body, it is extremely noticeable. In large lecture halls on the day before a student holiday such as Thanksgiving or spring break, expect that only about one-third of the students will actually show up to class. Professors have made a tradition of awarding extra credit to those students that DO show up to class, or even to schedule a major test for that day, so be prepared!
The spring football scrimmage is an official tradition to see how our upcoming team is going to be in the fall, but student body tailgating is certainly left unofficial. Students pack into the discounted parking stalls surrounding Bill Snyder Family Stadium, amid the pickups and SUV’s loaded with barbecue grills, coolers, and games like washers for entertainment. Security, though still strict, does tend to be a bit more lax than in the fall, and students are known to take advantage of the easy attitude and nice weather. Not only is it a blast to hang out, have a few drinks, and play some games with other students, but you are sure to discover the generosity of the K-State alums that go all-out in their barbecuing. With a simple introduction and answering a few questions about your school experience, you'll not only make a new friend in a former Wildcat, but you'll also probably receive a plate full of delicious food from someone who, only a few minutes before, was a complete stranger. K-Staters are, for the most part, great people, and the Spring Game tailgate is a good example of that.
Erin Brockovich (attended) was working as a legal clerk when she helped build a case against Pacific Gas and Electric for all water contamination. Her story was made into a movie starring Julie Roberts in 2000. Brockovich is now president of Brockovich Research and Consulting, a firm specializing in environmental concerns.
Sam Brownback is the senior US senator from Kansas who served as student body president while at K-State.
Milton Eisenhower (1923) is a former K-State president and the brother of the former US President Dwight Eisenhower.
General Richard B. Meyers (1965) is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Pat Roberts is the junior senator from Kansas. The Republican senator is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Warren Staley is a former CEO of Cargill, Inc, the agricultural company.
Earl Woods was a baseball player and the father of golf star Tiger Woods.
K-State has long been known as a football school, with former head coach Bill Snyder well-known to Kansans and football fans across the nation for his 2003 Big Twelve championship win. The Wildcats, whose official color is royal purple, compete in at the Division I level in the Big 12 Conference. Home football games are usually preceded by massive tailgates, full of school spirit and fight songs.
The men’s and women's basketball programs have also been on the rise for the past few years. The men’s team has won 17 conference crowns, and the women’s team has participated in 14 NCAA Tournaments, winning the 2008 Big 12 Championship.
Another big draw is the women's equestrian team; K-State is one of a small number of schools in the nation to have such a program.
K-State athletes were originally known as the Aggies, but in 1915 Coach Bender coined the nickname "Wildcats" for his football team because of its fighting spirit.
-Leah Peppiatt ’09 contributed reporting
Since 1986, K-State has ranked first nationally among state universities in its total of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall scholars.
The last newspaper edition of the semester features photos of K-State’s primary wildlife - squirrels.
K-State has its own Insect Zoo, where visitors can go on tours and 'pet' some of the animals, including millipedes, walking sticks, and tarantulas.
K-State is also known for its distinguished lecture series, which includes the Landon Lecture, Lou Douglas Lecture, Huck Boyd Lecture, and Dorothy Thompson Civil Rights series.
The school has more than 400 student organizations and more than 20 club sports.
Purple is K-State’s only official color, even though it’s commonly paired with white or gray.
Kansas State has ten residence halls on campus: Boyd Hall, Ford Hall, Goodnow Hall, Haymaker Hall, Marlatt Hall, Moore Hall, West Hall, Putnam Hall, Van Zile Hall, and Smurthwaite. There are also the KSU Jardine Apartments. Ford and Boyd Halls are all-female dorms, while Marlatt Hall is all-male. The residence halls are divided into three complexes: Derby, Kramer, and Strong.
K-State offers a fairly decent variety of residence halls, and many incoming freshmen do take advantage of this option. If you happen to be academically-inclined and receive an invitation to join one of the scholarship houses, Smurthwaite (for women) or Smith (for men), is one option. They are small communities, sort of small-scale Greek life, committed to service projects throughout the semester. If you’re looking for a quiet place to live where you’ll be able to focus on your studies and build up your resume with community service, these are good options.
If a scholarship house isn’t your thing, but you’re interested in living with only members of the same sex, K-State can accommodate you with a couple of options for female-only or male-only dorms. Rules in these buildings lay out specific visiting hours for coeds, and there are monitors to make sure these rules are followed. Though many incoming college freshman don’t necessarily opt for them on their dorm application, watch out – even if you put in for a coed lifestyle, you may wind up in one of these single-sex arrangements. It’s just one of the pitfalls you have to gamble with when applying for a spot in the residence halls. Never fear, though as there are plenty of other opportunities for you to meet members of the opposite sex—they just won’t be allowed into your dorm after hours!
For those of you lucky enough to squeak through the application process and into one of several coed dorms, there are even more options for you to choose from, such as the size of room you want. The rapid-fire response of course is ‘the biggest room possible,’ but you should realize that the larger and more convenient the room, the more expensive it is. K-State offers several different styles of suites, with options for one-person, two-person, or four-person layouts, each with private bathrooms.
The great thing about having a private bathroom is that you won’t find yourself shuffling down the hall in your robe and slippers at odd hours of the night to visit the bathroom, and you won’t have to worry about having to fight for showers. The bad thing is that there isn’t a cleaning service to come and tidy up your private bathroom, so if you want to avoid mold and germs, you’re going to have to take care of it yourself. And believe me, from experience, if you go for the suite option, pray that you share your bathroom with people who are willing to share the cleaning duties!
Overall, though the dorms certainly aren’t glamorous, they are, bottom-line, convenient. You can roll right out of bed and step out the door onto campus, finding yourself a five-minute walk away from class, and your meals already paid for. Plus, it’s a great way to make some fantastic friends.