Peru State College is a public four-year liberal arts institution located in Peru, Nebraska, in the Midwest region of the United States. Founded by members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1865, making it the first and oldest institution in Nebraska, it would undergo several name changes before receiving its current name.
The college is organized into three schools, each supporting a different set of majors, including a graduate program, plus an extensive online education program that is credited with the college's most recent successes. It occupies over twenty buildings on a beautiful 104-acre (42 ha) campus known as the "Campus of a thousand oaks".
Peru State College was originally incorporated under the name Mount Vernon School (sometimes reported Mount Vernon Seminary or Mount Vernon College) on December 2, 1865, under the management of the Methodist Episcopal Church, after the need for a local institution was discussed November 11, 1865. The school was named after the community in which it was located, on a bluff above the Missouri. The town of Mount Vernon was supplanted by a community located at the base of the hill, whose original settlers came from Peru, Illinois. The Nebraska Territorial Legislature chartered the school on February 12, 1866, under the name Peru Seminary and College.
The executive committee of the school deeded the grounds to the State of Nebraska in June 1867, making it the first state-supported college in Nebraska on June 20, 1867, with the first classes held on October 24, 1867. The name was also changed to Nebraska State Normal School. This is also considered the official date of the school's establishment.
The name would change twice more before being changed to the current name of Peru State College in 1963. The name changed to Nebraska State Teachers College at Peru in 1921, and in 1949 it changed to Peru State Teachers College.
During World War II, the Peru campus of the Nebraska State Teachers College hosted a unit of the US Navy V-12 officer training program, which served as an alternative military route for college students who were drafted during the war.
The State of Nebraska established the Nebraska State College System by statute in 1978, and Peru State College was placed by statute under the control of the new governmental body at the same time.
In 1998 the Nebraska State College System evaluated the possibility of closing Peru State College, or moving its campus to another location, among other options, and voted unanimously in 1999 to move Peru State to nearby Nebraska City, Nebraska. However, the legislature concluded that moving the college would have been too costly, and lawmakers decided instead to pump millions of dollars into campus renovations with the understanding the college would work quickly to boost growth .
In 1999 the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature introduced bill LB631, aimed at merging Chadron State College and Wayne State College into the University of Nebraska system, while turning Peru State College into a community college. A competing bill, LB650, was introduced about the same time but with the intent of funding Peru State College $7 million for renovations.
In 2003 rumors spread again about the possibility of closing Peru State College as part of a set of proposals to help save money in the Nebraska education system.
Peru State College has been pushing forward, and in 2007 celebrated a record 472 graduates, with student enrollment ballooning even higher. Credit was given largely to its online education programs, which it was reported funded about 30 percent of campus initiatives. This period of growth has been referred to by one college administrator as "the Renaissance".
The 104-acre (42 ha) Peru State College campus is a prominent feature of the small city of Peru, Nebraska, located approximately 11 miles (18 km) Northeast of nearby Auburn, NE, and approximately 70 miles (110 km) South of Omaha, NE.
The names of several of the buildings reflect the campus's long history in Nebraska. The T.J. Majors Building, which houses the School of Education and School of Professional Studies, is named in honor of Lt. Col. Thomas Jefferson Majors. The A.D. Majors building, which previously served as a residence hall, is named in honor of his nephew. It was demolished in 2008. These are the only two buildings on campus bearing the name of a person who was never employed by the college. T.J. and A.D. Majors served on the state normal board.
In 2003, the J.F. Neal Hall, named for one of the original pioneers of Peru State College, was leased to nearby Cooper Nuclear Station. It is currently inaccessible to everyone except authorized personnel.
In more recent years, Peru State College underwent massive renovations. These included renovations on the Eliza Morgan women's-only residence hall, providing for more modern amenities for residents. The buildings that previously served as the library and gymnasium were renovated and converted into a modernized library and an Academic Resource Center (ARC). The two buildings are also connected by a skywalk known as the "Bobcat Walk". The Al Wheeler Activity Center (AWAC) has also been renovated. Other renovations are still planned.
Three schools comprise Peru State College's academic offerings, providing baccalaureate and graduate degrees and certificates of achievement: School of Education, School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Professional Studies. Peru State's small campus size provides for a small student-faculty ratio.
Arguably the largest academic program at Peru State College, and also its oldest, is the education department, under the School of Education. The original role of Peru State College was that of a normal school, training individuals to become the teachers in public and private elementary and secondary schools. Until the founding of the Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney, now known as the University of Nebraska at Kearney, it was the only normal school in Nebraska.
Peru's continued strong commitment to teacher education is also reflected in its accreditations and memberships. Peru State College receives accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is a member of the National Council for Teacher Education and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
The School of Professional Studies houses Peru's Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Psychology programs. The business administration curriculum is further broken down into accounting, computer and management information systems (CMIS), marketing, and human performance and systems management. An endorsement is also available for education majors wishing to teach business courses in secondary schools. The criminal justice program is further broken down into justice administration and justice counseling.
The School of Arts and Sciences provides Peru's arts and sciences majors: Art, Music, English, Social Sciences, Natural Science, Mathematics, and Liberal Arts. Education endorsements are provided for education majors as well.
Peru State sports teams, the Bobcats, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I level, primarily competing in the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball and football; while women's sports include basketball, cheerleading, cross country, golf, softball and volleyball. Prior to 2011, Peru State competed in the NAIA Division II Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC).
The Peru State football team won the 1990 NAIA Division II National Championship, defeating Westminster (Pa.) 17-7. Tom Shea was named the 1990 NAIA Division II Coach of the Year.
The college also offers on-campus intramural athletics for student participation. Individual and team competitions are available for meets, leagues, and tournaments.
Peru State College features many modern facilities and accommodations around campus, along with a variety of student organizations, which can be found in the Peru State College student handbook. The college does not have any fraternities or sororities.
The Student Senate is the representative body for Peru State College students. Twenty-four (24) students comprise the Senate, with all positions eligible for election annually. The student representative to the Nebraska Board of Trustees is also considered a member of the Student Senate.
Many campus activities are arranged and funded by the student-run Campus Activities Board, or CAB as it is known by Peru State College students. CAB is funded through the activity fee paid by all students. The Student Activities Coordinator is CAB's advisor and regularly reports to the Student Senate.
Peru State College provides two single-sex residence halls: Eliza C. Morgan Hall for women only, and W.N. Delzell Hall for men only. There is also a three-building co-educational residence hall complex called the Centennial Complex. Each building of the Centennial Complex is actually two residence halls: Nicholas and Pate, Mathews and Clayburn, Davidson and Palmer. Each building elects one representative to the Student Senate.
The Mathews building is reserved for freshman students and upper class mentors participating in the Freshmen Experience Program, known as the "Mathews Mentor" program to students on campus. The Clayburn building is reserved for honors students.
The Peru State Times is Peru State College's student newspaper, previously known as the Pedagogian, published five times per semester and funded by the publication fee paid by students and paid advertising. The school has an on-campus television station on which campus and local announcements are broadcast; it has no radio station.
Nebraska State Teachers College
Peru State Teachers College
Nebraska State Teachers College