The origins of the university date back to 1861, when Kansas became a state. This was because as a provision was included in the Kansas Constitution for a state university. From 1861 to 1863 the question of where the university would be located—Lawrence, Manhattan or Emporia—was debated. In February 1863, Manhattan was made the location of the state's land-grant college, leaving only Lawrence and Emporia as candidates. The fact that Lawrence had $10,000 plus interest donated by Amos Lawrence plus 40 acres (160,000 m2) to donate for the university had great weight with the legislature and Lawrence beat out Emporia by one vote. A few years later, on March 7, 1863, the Kansas Legislature passed the enabling act to establish the Kansas State Normal School, which eventually evolved into Emporia State University. Although Emporia State was established in 1863, it was not until February 15, 1865 that classes began.
The first president of the Kansas Normal School, who was also the school's only teacher, Lyman Beecher Kellogg, taught nearly 20 students in the district school house. The school's first class graduated on June 28, 1867, the same year the first permanent building was completed, consisted of two women, Mary Jane Watson and Ellen Plumb. The two women were daughters of two notable persons in Kansas; the first being Judge Watson, a local judge, and the second being Senator Preston B. Plumb.
The name "Normal" originated in France during the 17th century and was given to schools that had "model" classrooms or schools designed to educate teachers-in-training in the proper practices of teaching students. The United States had many Normal schools in the 19th century and most changed their names to "Teachers College". Many later became "State Universities."
In 1876, the Kansas Legislature passed the "Miscellaneous appropriations bill of 1876". The end result was that Leavenworth Normal and Concordia Normal were closed so the state funding for normal schools could be directed to Emporia.
KSN branched out with locations in Pittsburg and Hays, Kansas. The western branch in Hays opened June 3, 1902 and is today known as Fort Hays State University. The Pittsburg branch was opened as the Manual Training Auxiliary School in 1904 and became a four-year school named Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg in 1913. Today it is Pittsburg State University.
In February 1923, the name of the school was changed to the Kansas State Teachers College. In July 1974, the name was changed to Emporia Kansas State College. On April 21, 1977, the college became Emporia State University. Even before any of the name changes were made official by the Kansas Legislature and Board of Regents, though, the school was called Emporia State unofficially by some in the public and in many news reports.
Dr. Michael Shonrock became Emporia State's 16th president on January 3, 2012. On April 9, 2015, it was announced that Michael Shonrock was stepping down to become president at Lindenwood University, effective June 1. Former Butler Community College president Dr. Jacqueline Vietti became interim president. On October 22, 2015, Allison Garrett, Executive Vice President at Abilene Christian University, was selected as Emporia State University's 17th president, effective January 4, 2016.
By enrollment, Emporia State is the seventh-largest university in Kansas. In the Fall 2014 semester, Emporia State set a record enrollment with 6,114 students. Emporia State University comprises four colleges: the School of Business, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Library and Information Management, and the Teachers College.
In July 2013, The Chronicle of Higher Education named Emporia State a "Great College to Work For" and the Princeton Review included Emporia State among its "Best of the Midwest" higher education institutions. Emporia State was again named a "Great College to Work For" in 2014.
Emporia State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The university offers degrees in more than 80 courses of study. Emporia State has a satellite campus in Kansas City, which is mostly online classes, but some classes are held in the building.
The School of Business is a public business school located on the main campus of Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. The School of Business was founded in 1868 and currently has more than 30 faculty members and approximately 300 students.
The School is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). The programs have been thoroughly reviewed and found to be of the highest quality. This distinction is found with less than 5% of business schools worldwide.
The School of Business opened the Koch Center for Leadership and Ethics, which is a center made up of classes that focuses on entrepreneurial management. The Center was funded through grants of $750,000 from the Fred Koch Foundation, as well as Koch Industries.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in numerous fields, with an emphasis on health professions and related programs, biological and biomedical sciences, and social sciences. Courses are offered at the main campus, online, and at satellite campuses.
The School of Library and Information Management, which was founded in 1902 and better known as SLIM, is the "oldest school of library and information studies in the western half of the United States" and has branches in six states. SLIM is the only accredited American Library Association program in Kansas. The School Library Media Licensure program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
The Emporia State University's Teachers College is one of only four post-secondary institutions in the United States to be identified as an Exemplary Model Teacher Education program by Arthur Levine in his 2006 national study of teacher education programs. The other three were Alverno College, Stanford University, and University of Virginia. In 2011, The Teachers College was featured in a video produced by the U.S. Department of Education highlighting the use of professional development schools.
The Jones Institute for Educational Excellence is a non-profit organization partially funded by the Walter S. and Evan C. Jones Trust of Lyon County, Kansas. Established in August 1982, the office is part of The Teachers College and is located off campus. It is used for research to better education in the state of Kansas.
The National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) is a non-profit organization that honors exceptional school teachers and was founded in 1989 by Emporia State University, the City of Emporia, the local school district, and the Chamber of Commerce. The NTHF has a museum on Emporia State's campus that honors the teachers inducted. It also has a teacher resource center, and a recognition program, which recognizes five of the nation's best educators each June.
The Hall of Fame annually honors five teachers who have demonstrated commitment and dedication to teaching children. The first induction of five teachers was held in June 1992 and since then, 115 teachers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Inductees cover more than three-quarters of the United States and Washington D.C.
Memorial for Fallen Educators
On June 13, 2013, NTHF executive director, along with former university officials, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran's staff, and local government leaders broke ground by the one-room school house located on the campus to build a memorial for the teachers that have fallen in the "line of duty". The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was the main inspiration for the memorial. On June 6, 2014, the granite memorial markers were placed along with granite benches. The official dedication was on June 12, 2014.
On September 21, 2015, United States Senator Moran of Kansas introduced a bill to the United States Congress to designate the memorial as the "National Memorial to Fallen Educators". Should the bill pass by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, the memorial would then need signed by the President of the United States, and the memorial would not become apart of the National Park Service and would not receive Federal funding for the memorial.
Emporia State University–Kansas City is the branch campus of Emporia State, located in Overland Park. The campus offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
On August 29, 2014, Emporia State inaugurated 16 students into its first-ever Honors College. The main goals of the Honors College is teaching students to teach leadership and civic skills, as well as helping students to become overall productive members of society. It is currently led by Gary Wyatt, who had previously served as the Associate Dean of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Most academic buildings at Emporia State University are dedicated to someone or are an important part of Emporia State's history.
Beach Music Hall, named in honor of Frank A. Beach who was a distinguished Professor of Music at the Kansas State Teachers College, is home to the Music Department. Built in 1926, Beach Music was renovated in 1997. Inside the building are administrative offices, classrooms, a concert hall, computer lab, and practice rooms. There are also choral and instrumental rehearsal rooms, percussion studios, and the recording center for digital audio.
Bruekelman–Cram Science Hall is home to the Physical Sciences Department. Inside includes classrooms for Chemistry, Physics, and Earth science. Some museums are located with in the Breuekelman–Cram Science Hall including the Johnston Geology Museum, the Richard H. Schmidt Museum of Natural History, and the Peterson Planetarium.
Named after former president Thomas W. Butcher, the Butcher Education Center is home to the Sociology, Anthropology, and Crime & Delinquency Studies Department. On the south side of the building is the ESU Center for Early Childhood Education, which is a daycare center and also serves as a preschool.
Cremer Hall is home to the School of Business. The building is named after Raymond Griffith Cremer, ESU's first business degree graduate. The building opened in 1964 and was completed in 1969. Cremer Hall is also the home of the Kansas Business Hall of Fame, which is chartered was a not-for-profit organization on May 8, 1987. Following the guidelines of the American National Business Hall of Fame, the organization became a fully accredited member in September, 1987.
The HPER Building, officially known as the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building, is home to the Athletics department and the student recreation center. In the HPER Building, the university's intercollegiate athletics is housed there as well as the ESU Athletics Hall of Fame. Also in the building are classrooms and gymnasiums that the teams use for practice.
Inside John E. King Hall, named after the 11th president of ESU, is the Theatre Department, and the Arts and Communication Departments. Also inside is the Karl C. Bruder Theatre, named after the man that started the summer theatre program at KSTC in 1955 and still runs today.
Plumb Hall serves as the Administration building, which is the President's office, Academic Affairs, and Fiscal Affairs. Also in Plumb Hall is Financial Aid services, Human Resources, the Learning Center, and some classrooms. The building is named after Senator Preston B. Plumb, who was from Emporia. Also inside is Albert Taylor Hall, which is an auditorium named after the 5th president of ESU.
Roosevelt Hall, once known as a high school in Emporia, serves as the home of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Inside are classrooms primarily for the English, Modern Languages, and Journalism classes.
John E. Visser Hall is home to The Teachers College. The building is named after ESU's 12th president. Visser Hall also serves as the home to the Teachers Hall of Fame.
The William Allen White Library is home to SLIM. Inside is a computer lab, the Department of University Archives, and stacks of library books.
The Emporia State University Memorial Union is the student activity center at Emporia State University. The Union opened on February 15, 1925. The Memorial Union was erected as a memorial to the students who died in World War I (WWI); therefore the name – "Memorial Student Union" – was established. It was the first student union building west of the Mississippi River. It has undergone four building additions since its opening in 1925 (1958, 1963, 1972, & 2012). The three-level structure contains 168,000 square feet of space devoted to conference, dining, meeting, recreational, and lounge facilities. Inside the Union, the Bookstore, Admissions office, and Sodexo (Dining Services) and the Vice President of Student Affairs office are all located within the building.
The Earl Sauder Alumni Center houses the Emporia State University Foundation and Alumni Association. Cora Miller Hall, named after Cora A. Miller, is home to the School of Nursing and is located next to Newman Regional Hospital.
At ESU, all incoming freshmen students must live in the Towers Complex (North & South Towers, Singular & Trusler), unless they live within a 30-mile (48 km) radius of the campus. Upperclassmen have the choice to live in Morse Hall Complex.
Morse Hall Complex consists of four wings: Northeast Morse, Central Morse, South Morse and Abigail Morse. Northeast, Central and South are all upperclassmen residence halls. South Morse is used for office purposes such as the TRIO Program and Student Wellness Center are located in South.
The Towers Complex is made up into four residence halls: North & South Towers, and Singular and Trusler Towers. Trusler went under renovation in the fall 2013, with Singular going under renovation in the spring 2014.
ESU has eight fraternities and six sororities.
The school newspaper of Emporia State University is ESU Bulletin, which was established in 1901. The Bulletin is published once a week on Thursdays and is distributed free of charge in all campus buildings. Supported by student fees and advertising, The Bulletin is written and operated by student staff members.
Sunflower, the university's yearbook, is published each spring as a chronicle of the year’s events and activities. It is funded by student fees and is distributed during finals week of the spring semester. Students who choose to be included in the yearbook are photographed at no charge during the fall semester.
Emporia State University's intercollegiate athletic teams are known as the Hornets with the exception of the women's teams, which are known as the Lady Hornets. Emporia State competes in the NCAA Division II where it is a member of the MIAA. Since 1893, Emporia State has belonged to six conferences: the Kansas Conference, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the Great Plains Athletic Conference, the Central States Intercollegiate Conference and the MIAA.
Of its varsity sports, Emporia States's women's basketball team has been the only one to claim a national title. The Lady Hornets, who was led head coach Brandon Schneider, won the 2010 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship, defeating the Fort Lewis College (Colorado) Skyhawks. The men's basketball team is currently coached by Shaun Vandiver, a former NBA First Round Draft Pick.
Since 1940, home basketball games have been played at William L. White Auditorium, a 5,000-seat arena which is named after William Lindsay White, son of William Allen White. In addition to serving as home to the men's and women's basketball teams, the arena is used by the Lady Hornets volleyball team. In 2008, White Auditorium received an upgrade throughout the entire building.
The Hornets football team, is currently coached by former Hornets quarterback Garin Higgins. Since joining the MIAA in 1991, the Hornets have gone 123–118 in conference play. The Hornets have also participated in five post-season bowls in which three of those were wins.
Francis G. Welch Stadium serves as home to the Hornets football team. The stadium, named after long-time Emporia State football coach and athletic director Fran Welch, opened in 1947 and since then has gone under a few renovations. In 1994, the east and west side concession areas, restroom facilities, and entrances were renovated, a new scoreboard was hoisted into place at the south end of the stadium and a new landscaped fence was erected. In 1997, the Hutchinson Family Pavilion, a three-tiered facility which has enclosed theatre seating on the first floor, a president’s box and four sky-boxes on the second floor, and a game-day management and media center on the third floor was built. The current seating capacity is 7,000. In 2005, an artificial football field was placed down, with that one being replaced in 2016, as well as a new track.
The Hornets baseball team played its first game in 1949. The team has four conference championships, three conference tournament champions, and two College World Series appearances with a 2009 runner-up. The team had also made five appearances in the NAIA World Series, winning the 1978 World Series. Currently the team is coached by Bob Fornelli, who is 377–153 (.711) at Emporia State and 683–266 (.720) overall. The Lady Hornets softball team played its first game by 1971, seven years before the baseball team. The team is currently coached by April Huddleston, who took over the program on October 19, 2015. The softball team appeared in three Women's College World Series in 1971, 1972 and 1979 and also won the first AIAW Division II national championship in 1980. Emporia State also played for the national championship in 2006 and 2008.
Trusler Sports Complex is home to the baseball and softball teams. The baseball team competes on Glennen Field, named after Dr. Robert E. Glennen, 13th president of Emporia State. In 2009, the field was renovated with a new artificial turf that replaced the infield on Glennen Field. The Lady Hornets compete on Turnbull Field, which is named after of J. Michael Turnbull, a trustee of the Trusler Foundation.
In addition, Emporia State also has a men/women's cross country/track and field team, women's soccer team, men/women's tennis, and women's soccer.
Emporia State's official school colors are black and gold. They have been the colors since the school was founded in 1863, and until recently, the gold was Old gold.
Corky the Hornet is Emporia State University's mascot. In 1923 when the Emporia State was named to the Kansas State Teachers College, the athletic teams were known as the "Yaps". Many people not like the name, most notably Emporia State coach Vic Trusler. Trusler suggested to Cecil Carle of the Emporia Gazette that the university's athletic teams should be called the "Yellow Jackets". However, the name changed to "Hornets" due to the lack of newspaper space.
In 1933, the Teachers College had a student contest where students and staff could design a mascot for the college. Sophomore Paul Edwards, who graduated in 1937, designed Corky. Although hundreds of drawings were submitted, Edwards' Corky, a "human-like" hornet was selected. Corky was published in The Bulletin, the student newspaper for Emporia State University.
Established in 1952, the Emporia State University Foundation is an independent, nonprofit corporation that helps support Emporia State by fundraising.
In February 2013, the University announced a campaign to raise $45 million in five to seven years. The campaign started in February 2013, when the University turned 150. The Campaign's slogan is Silent no more. After an announcement of a donation, big or small, the University rings a bell called Silent Joe. The bell, which is located just south of Francis G. Welch Stadium, was originally rung only after a football team won at home. The campaign ended in February 2017, totaling $58.03 million, the largest in the university's history.
ESU Police and Safety is the police department for Emporia State University. The officers are qualified, as they have attended the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and met for the same requirements as sheriff's officers or city police officers. Besides enforcing the law, the department also provides other assistance for the students and faculty/staff members. Those include escorts and vehicle problems like jump starts and lock outs. The Department has nine full-time commissioned officers (1 director, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals, 3 officers), one full-time dispatcher and several student dispatchers. The Kansas Highway Patrol also has an office in the building.
The ESU Parking Department is located in the Police & Safety building. The department is in charge of issuing permits for students, faculty/staff, and visitors. The Department is also in charge of writing parking citations at expired meters, and anywhere else there may be a parking problem.