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Alumni and Constituent Relations hosts “History of Pittsburg State”

The Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations is keeping alumni informed and educated about the storied past of Pittsburg State University. 

On Monday, Oct. 12, the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations hosted a presentation entitled “History of PSU” via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. The presentation was given by curator of special collections Steve Cox. Attendees included alumni from a variety of locations around the world including Chicago, Virginia, Brazil and more. Topics discussed included Pittsburg State’s founding, the administrators over Pittsburg State’s existence and the history of buildings on campus. 

“We’re very happy that everyone is here to help us kick off homecoming week,” said Jon Bartlow, director of alumni and constituent relations. “… It’s great to see everybody, even though we are seeing you virtually… Nonetheless, we thought this was a great way to kick off our Homecoming Week here at Pittsburg State.” 

The presentation started with a brief history on Pittsburg as a community and then, transitioned into talking about Pittsburg State University’s founding. 

“In addition to university history, we have a lot of local history as well,” Cox said. “… I always like to start with a little background history of Pittsburg itself. Pittsburg was established in 1876… We were originally known for the zinc and lead miners, attracting workers from eastern Europe. That gave us the name ‘Little Balkans…” 

The university was originally founded as the Pittsburg Auxiliary Manual Training Normal School under the umbrella and supervision of the university that is now known as Emporia State University in 1903. The term “normal school” means that PSU was initially a teacher’s training college. Not everyone in this relationship between schools was happy with it. 

“The people at Emporia State weren’t that happy to have us be a part of them, and their president issued the statement: ‘The Pittsburg school is a foundling laid at the door of Emporia, an unwelcome child that the state compels us to father,” Cox said. 

According to Cox, early administrators fought to separate PSU from Emporia. 

“In 1913, we got to drop the ‘Auxiliary’ (from PSU’s original name) because we became independent of Emporia State…” 

Cox also talked about the first administrators of PSU in greater detail including Russel S. Russ, the university’s first “principal” and the namesake for Russ Hall on campus.  

“He was not a president, he was the principal,” Cox said. “He led the university for eight years, from 1903 to 1911… In 1911, he was pretty much fired from the school because he was a little too vocal about trying to get us separated from Emporia State…” 

The presentation served as a kickoff for PSU’s Homecoming Week festivities. 

“It’s a unique Homecoming Week and obviously we’re not able to do all the things that we typically would like to do..,” Bartlow said. “We are planning a virtual Homecoming convocation that will be broadcast live on pittstate.tv on Friday (Oct. 16) at 11 a.m. Central Standard Time. We’ll hear from President Scott… We’ll have a prerecorded pep rally with social distancing… We hope that you will tune in for that…” 

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