Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Through the years

August 18, 2005


1856: Preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church begin formulating plans for a university.

1858: The governor of the Kansas Territory, on Feb. 12, signs the Baker University charter which had been approved by the legislature, making it the first university in Kansas. With Werter Renick Davis as its first president, the university opens its doors in November in a building known as the Old Castle.

1864: President Abraham Lincoln makes a cash gift of $100 toward construction of a larger building, later known as Parmenter Hall.

1866: John Wesley Horner, as the fifth president of Baker, grants the University's first degrees to two men and one woman.

1871: Classes move from Old Castle to Parmenter, which has one floor ready for occupancy.

1879: William Henry Sweet becomes the 12th president. A growing student administration of President Hillary Asbury Gobin.

1890: William Alfred Quayle becomes the first alumnus to serve as president of Baker. He promotes curricular enrichment and supports the rapidly expanding interests of students in the area of sports. On November 22, Baker hosts the University of Kansas in the first intercollegiate football game played in the state, and wins 22-9. Baseball, track and field, and tennis are also developed.

1894: Concern within the patronizing conferences of the Methodist Episcopaly Church leads to a trustee ban on all intercollegiate sports. Lemuel Herbert Murlin succeeds Quayle in the presidency, which he occupies until 1911.

1898: Nelson Case, chair of the trustees, makes a challenge grant for the construction of a library, which is subsequently completed in 1907.

1900: A revival of student interest in sports appears with a gift of Cavaness Athletic Park for baseball and track. Other gifts lead to the construction of the W.D. Rippey Building with its D. Fogle Gymnasium for men and Frances D. Whitaker Gymnasium for women. The building succumbs to fire in 1907.

1905: Osmon Grant Markham becomes the first academic dean and later serves as acting president during the 1921-22 school year.

1907: Warren Ortman Ault becomes the first alumnus granted a Rhodes Scholarship. Three years later, a Rhodes Scholarship is granted to Frank Baker Bristow, also a Baker alumnus.

1908: President Murlin lays the cornerstone of Taylor Hall, a successor to the Rippey building. The new facility provides for major musical performances and athletic events.

1909: Student pressure leads to the revocation of the ban on football.

1911: William Howard Taft, the President of the United States, participates in the festivities of Wilbur Nesbitt Mason's formal installation as president of Baker. He delivers a speech on world peace.

1914: Baker reaches a $500,000 goal in pledges for a permanent endowment.

1920: Emil S. Liston returns to his alma mater as athletic director and leads Baker into football and basketball prominence.

1923: Baker's debate team competes at Southwestern College in Winfield and wins the first college debate tournament held in the United States.

1924: Homer Kinglsey Ebright becomes the first alumnus to serve as academic dean.

1925: President Wallace Fleming dedicates Mulvane Hall, constructed to house Baker's science department. Grace Mabel Irwin returns to her alma mater as the dean of women, a position she holds until her retirement in 1953.

1930: Missouri Wesleyan in Cameron, Mo., merges with Baker, incorporating the Wesleyan alumni into the Baker family.

1933: Raymond Donald Pruitt is the third Baker alumnus granted a Rhodes scholarship. Six years later, Donald Wayne Taylor receives a Rhodes scholarship, but is unable to use it when he is called to service at the beginning of World War II.

1935: The first unit of seating for the football stadium is completed and a second unit is completed in 1939. World War II prevents additional expansion. The facility is later named Emil S. Liston Stadium.

1936: Nelson Paxson Horn, a Missouri Wesleyan alumnus, succeeds Fleming as president and serves 20 years, the longest presidency in the history of Baker.

1937: Coach Emil Liston organizes the first national college basketball tournament and becomes executive director of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball. The Kansas City tournament becomes an annual event and leads to the creation of the NAIA in 1952. Baker's team competes in the first tournament.

1940: Benjamin Aberdeen Gessner, a Baker graduate, becomes academic dean, an office he holds until 1969.

1941: Pearl Harbor is attacked and the U.S. declares war. Over the next few years, Baker suffers a substantial decline in enrollment especially among young men.

1942: After the completion of the school's first undefeated, untied football season (7-0-0), Baker and many other Kansas colleges terminate all athletic activities except basketball.

1943: Fire in Taylor Hall destroys the interior, displacing several departments of instruction, as well as the basketball team. The building is renovated in 1948 as Memorial Hall.

1946: Karl Spear succeeds Coach Emil Liston as athletic director. The football program resumes with Spear as coach through the 1962 season. Additionally, Spear's golf teams dominate conference play over the next 35 years.

1950: George Fulton Collins Jr. and his sister, Loreine Collins Dietrich, make the first of several important gifts to Baker. They honor their parents, Jennie Weaver and George Fulton Collins, former students, by funding the construction of Collins House, the official residence of the Baker president.

1953: Baker track star Palmer Mai claims the NAIA National Championship in the 200-yard low hurdles.

1956: William John Scarborough becomes president of the university and initiates a 10-year building program. Rice Auditorium, constructed as a memorial to the distinguished graduate and preacher Merton Stacher Rice, replaces Centenary Hall for theatre productions under Thelma Morreale's direction.

1966: The Department of Music, under William Rice's leadership, moves from quarters provided at the local Methodist church for 30 years to its new home, later named Owens Musical Arts Building. James Edward Doty becomes president and initiates a program of core courses and an interterm.

1967: Enrollment tops 1,000. Residence halls are full. Baker graduates its largest class in 1969 when commencement is held in Liston Stadium for the first time.

1969: Neal Malicky succeeds Benjamin Gessner as academic dean. He later serves as acting president during the 1973-74 academic year.

1972: Renovation is completed on Memorial Hall through a challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation. The building is renamed Mabee Memorial Hall.

1974: Jerald Carter Walker becomes Baker's 24th president. He initiates a renovation program for Mulvane Hall, Parmenter Hall and Stone Hall.

1975: Eugene C. Pulliam, '06, owns several newspapers including the Indianapolis paper, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. With the assistance of Southern Methodist University, Baker establishes a Master of Liberal Arts program in Kansas City.

1976: The university begins an extensive program of intercollegiate athletics for women.

1978: The Baker football team, under the direction of third-year coach Joseph Girardi, earns the school's first postseason appearance in the Boot Hill Bowl in Dodge City.

1980: Ralph M. Tanner becomes the 26th president of Baker University. Renovation continues to the library and Rice Auditorium. First-year football coach Charlie Richard leads Baker to its first NAIA Division II playoff berth.

1983: The Baker football team completes the regular season with a 10-0-0 record for its first undefeated, untied season since 1942.

1985: The George F. Collins Jr. Spors and Convention Center, constructed through a challenge gift from Loreine Collins Dietrich in honor of her brother, opens in December.

1986: Baker's football team reaches the NAIA Division II Championship game before losing to undefeated Linfield College in Oregon.

1987: Daniel Lambert becomes Baker's 27th president and plans begin to launch the new School of Professional and Graduate Studies.

1990: The Edward and Sylvia Harter estate provide a $2.7-million trust for scholarships. It is the largest gift in the school's history and will provide about $200,000 a year for student scholarships. Former President Gerald R. Ford delivers the convocation address in Rice Auditorium on Oct. 17, marking the start of the school year. The university is recognized in two national publications: as one of the top 100 private schools in the nation by Money magazine, and as one of the 300 best buys in the nation by Barron's 300 Best Buys in College Education. The university repeats the Barron's honor several times during the decade and continues to rank high in Money magazine's guide.

1991: The university's enrollment climbs for the sixth straight year and Baker becomes the largest independent college in Kansas with 1,636 students. In addition, the university's endowment climes to an all-time high of more than $19 million, and faculty salaries rise to a level higher than any private baccalaureate institution in Kansas. Baker alumnus Harold Jackson, '75, an editorial writer for the Birmingham News in Alabama, is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. The university enters into a cooperative agreement with Stormont-Vail Regional Medical Center in Topeka and creates the Baker University School of Nursing. In March, the university announces that it has completed the first phase of a capital campaign with gifts totaling $7.06 million.

1992: Growth in the School of Professional and Graduate Studies necessitates the addition of a Winter Commencement -- the first in the school's history.

1993: Jim Irick dies in February of an aneurysm. He was a teacher and coach at Baker for 37 years and a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney is featured in the Loreine C. Dietrich Distinguished Lecture. Baker's football team travels to France to participate in an American Football Festival. Dr. Raymond Pruitt, '33, one of Baker's four Rhodes Scholars, dies.

1994: Horn Hall, a former dormitory which sat vacant for many years due to structural problems, is razed.

1995: A $3.1 million renovation of Mabee Memorial Hall is completed. Baker mourns the loss of football coach Charlie Richard, who dies from a heart attack in his office on Dec. 13. Richard had the highest winning percentage of any NAIA coach in the country and, in his 14 years at Baker, took his teams to the national playoffs 10 times. Baker also feels another great loss upon the death of benefactor Loreine Collins Dietrich, who funded many projects through the years. Baker secures a Methodist chapel from Sproxton, England, where it is dismantled, shipped to America, and rebuilt stone by stone on the Baldwin City campus.

1996: The Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel is dedicated in October by Lady Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, whose father once preached there. The chapel is dedicated in memory of the wife of Robert R. Osborne, an Olathe philanthropist whose $1 million gift funded the chapel project. The university conducts a service in memory of the five students who lost their lives in the Kappa Sigma fraternity fire 20 years before.

1997: The School of Professional and Graduate Studies opens a campus in Wichita. The University's Quayle Rare Bible Collection receives national attention and experts call it the finest of such collections in the world.

1998: The university completes an extensive campus landscape project, made possible in part by a generous donation by Elizabeth and James Ferrell. Improvements include a stately grape arbor and a softly flowing stream, cross by the Taft Bridge. The later addition of the Wildcat Cafe provides a gathering place for students and faculty. Growth in the School of Professional and Graduate Studies puts Baker enrollment at an all-time high of 2,340 students.

1999: The university kicks off $6.35-million campaign to re-create the Collins Library. Plans include upgrading technology and increasing classroom and study space. Plans are also put into motion for the construction of two student apartment facilities to house close to 100 students.

2000: The university kicks off a $6.35-million campaign to re-create the Collins Library. Plans include upgrading technology and increasing classroom and study space. Plans are also put into motion for the construction of two student apartment facilities to house close to 100 students.

2000: The university celebrates the completion of the Horn and Markham Student Apartments with a dedication ceremony. Ambassador Alan Keyes visits Baker to speak at the University Convocation.

2001: Construction begins on Baker's redesigned, state-of-the-art library. The university's largest and most successful fund-raising campaign exceeds the established goal of $6.35 million. James and Elizabeth Ferrell attend the dedication of the Ferrell Green and the redesigned Wildcat Cafe. The Baker community mourns the loss of Robert R. Osborne. The Olathe philanthropist gave $1 million in 1995 to move a Methodist chapel from Sproxton, England to the Baker campus. Baker's School of Nursing in Topeka is given high marks by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and accredited for the maximum 10-year term. Enrollment at the School of Nursing reaches 100.

2002: Baker kicks off a campaign to refurbish the university's outdoor sports facilities. The first phase of the four-phase campaign, the renovation of Liston Stadium and the football field is completed. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools awards Baker a 10-year accreditation period, the maximum amount possible, following a 2001 review of the university. Baker's men's soccer team has an impressive season on its way to a NAIA Region V Championship. The Wildcats qualify for the national soccer tournament for the first time in university history.

2003: The university dedicates the newly recreated Collins Library. The $6.35-million project establishes Collins as a premier library in the region.

2005: Dan Lambert announces in May that he planned to retired after the 2005-2006 school year.

Source: Baker University alumni directory

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