UNK history, 111-year anniversary celebrated in 2016 with special events

Student Life“UNK Perspectives: 111 and 25” Events
March 1 – Lecture “Kearney’s Beginning,” 4 p.m., Chancellor Douglas A. Kristensen, Fine Arts Building Recital Hall, followed by premiere of “Perspectives” Exhibition and reception, Calvin T. Ryan Library
April 6 – “A Century in the Making,” 7 p.m. film and panel, World Theatre
July 1 – “25 Years” faculty/staff celebration and breakfast, under the Yanney bell tower
Sept. 1 – Student artwork exhibition
September TBD – “111 & 25” Celebration Dinner

Teachers CollegeIn March 1903, the Nebraska Legislature appropriated $50,000 to build a normal school in western Nebraska, touching off a heated competition among several communities wanting to be selected. The debate and ballots – 111 of them – made history. The last vote brought the Nebraska State Normal School to Kearney.

Jump ahead a little to September 1905 – 111 years ago – when new Normal School president A.O. Thomas took over fall classes in the new Administration Building. It had temporary stairs, lacked window glass, and required steam engines to deliver heat until the heating plant was completed.

Could the Nebraska Legislature and president Thomas know that nearly 85 years later, in 1989, another historic legislative battle would erupt over the fate ofds then-Kearney State College, to become part of the University of Nebraska?

The year 2016 brings us to historic benchmarks – 111 years since the institution’s founding, and 25 years since becoming University of Nebraska at Kearney. Chancellor Doug Kristensen will invite alumni, community members, faculty, staff and students, and all Nebraskans, to celebrate throughout 2016.

A year-long series of events begins in March to share the wide-ranging and rich history of what we now know as University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“UNK Perspectives: 111 and 25” will showcase music, art, historic documents and artifacts, and primarily, the people and positions that influenced the course of 111 years of history for Nebraska State Normal School to UNK.

The events kick off with a March 1 lecture by chancellor Kristensen, with a deep appreciation of Nebraska Legislative history, tells a story of the amazing 111 votes.

“Throughout our history things have never been easy for the campus — beginning with the 111 difficult votes required to select Kearney as the home of the new institution,” Kristensen said.

Kristensen co-sponsored the amendment and legislative bill leading to Kearney State College’s inclusion into the University of Nebraska system, and will end his history lecture with personal perspectives on UNK’s “coming of age” as part of NU – and vision for the future. The 4 p.m. lecture will kick off an exhibition of historic documents and artifacts by archivists at Calvin T. Ryan Library, the site of a reception, with opportunities to give oral histories about UNK.

“As part of the University of Nebraska, UNK’s rapid transition and improvement are key historic elements to note in this year-long series of events,” Kristensen said. “Looking back to 1991 and how far we’ve come… this deserves a celebration. The campus has fueled great educational momentum throughout the entire state.”

Events will continue over the spring semester and summer, noting the July 1, 1991 anniversary of becoming UNK, and culminating with an outdoor dinner and celebration in conjunction with Homecoming weekend.

Questions about the activities can be directed to Kelly Bartling, bartlingkh@unk.edu, or 308-865-8455.

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Hunt on for uniforms, bells, photos, t-shirts

UNK alumni, former faculty/staff and friends: Do you have an old cheerleader uniform, posters, publications or other artifacts that are special and unique to UNK’s history?

You don’t by chance have a victory bell that may have been “borrowed” from a fraternity one night and never returned, do you? Or a Louie Loper costume?

Any items that you have that tell UNK’s story far back into its history, we’d like to display them for you during the Year of Celebration “Perspectives” exhibition March 1-April 6. You can loan your item to us to be returned, or donate your item to archives if you want us to preserve it for history.

Call or email Calvin T. Ryan Archives and Special Collections at 308-865-8593, or weissell@unk.edu, with a description of your item by Feb. 15.

We also are collecting testimonials and special memories about UNK. Email those to project archivist sinorsc@unk.edu or bring yourself to the Library during the March 1 event to present a recorded oral history.

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