HAYS, KS -- The public is welcome to attend a reception Tuesday morning that will commemorate federal legislation from more than 100 years ago that helped to create Fort Hays State University.
Creating a university on the grounds of an abandoned frontier fort was a long, involved process for western Kansas. It literally took an act of Congress to transfer ownership of the land that had once been Fort Hays. After an earlier unsuccessful effort, the Kansas congressional delegation introduced legislation in 1899 that was signed into law on March 28, 1900, by President William McKinley, paving the way for the birth of FHSU as the Western Branch of the Kansas Normal School of Emporia.
Fort Hays State University celebrated the 100th anniversary of that historic signing two years ago with special events on March 28, 2000, in Washington, DC. The university is now officially in its Centennial year, and it is marking the Centennial with special events each month throughout 2002. The January Centennial event will be a reception at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the Dreiling Lobby in Sheridan Hall on the FHSU campus.
A brief ceremony will begin with a greeting from Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president. U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, who played a key role in the ceremonies two years ago in Washington, will attend the reception and talk about the importance of a strong working relationship between the federal government and institutions of higher education. Moran's remarks will give specific attention to Fort Hays State University. Finally, Dr. James Forsythe, university historian, will describe the efforts beginning in the late 1800s that produced the federal legislation and eventually the university.
Refreshments will be served following the ceremony. The public is welcome. Facsimiles of the actual federal bill that was signed by President McKinley will be given away at no charge for as long as the supply lasts. Also, Lighthouse on the Plains: Fort Hays State University, 1902-2002, the 100-year history of the university by Dr. Forsythe, is due to arrive any day from the publisher. If the books arrive by Tuesday, they will be available for purchase and the author will sign the books.