(Kansas City, Missouri) - Even before Kansas became a state, Kansans wanted a university.
What no one knew in territorial days or in the earliest years of statehood - or even after the University of Kansas opened for classes - was how big and how good it might become. In KU's first semester, 55 students enrolled but the faculty of three found not one prepared for college work. The university would grow into a vast and intricate educational machine that, in the 21st century, counts more than 27,000 students and 1,600 faculty members across multiple campuses.
Former Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times editor Monroe Dodd has written a new coffee table book for Kansas City Star Books, KU 150: The Story of the University of Kansas, commemorating the school's sesquicentennial. He traces its often-difficult journey through wars, economic pitfalls, clashes of ideas and ideologies, and the unending demands of politics on Thursday, February 5, 2015, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
In truth, there is some debate about the official date of KU's founding. Its board of regents first met on March 21, 1865 - the year inscribed on school seal - but some point to the first day of classes on September 12, 1866.
The university's impact is indisputable, however. The scientist who discovered vitamins A and D was a graduate. Helium was extracted from gas for the first time in one of its labs. The inventor of the time-release medication capsule taught there, and astronauts, artists, authors, business leaders, senators and governors, Pulitzer Prize winners, and a Nobel laureate launched careers there.
Dodd is a KU product, too, earning a master's degree in journalism in 1971 and a master's in history in 1974. He was an editor at The Times and The Star from 1976 to 2008, and has edited or authored a number of books on the history of Kansas City and the region.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.