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With faith, perseverance and the support of local businessmen and church leaders, Kansas Wesleyan University opened its doors in 1886. Our history includes many memorable moments that have transformed our students, inspired change and brought us to where we are today. Our university, from the very early days of its existence, was built on a pioneering spirit. Church leaders forged the new Conference of the Northwest, garnering support for a new educational institution within it. Henry Mayo and Daniel McGurk, the first students to graduate, trusted our faculty to deliver. And they did.
Wesleyan students have learned from some of the most talented and worldly scholars such as Ben Fuson, who went to Iran on a Fulbright Scholarship and attended a world parliament; Paul Stucky, who took students on geology field trips to Colorado and offered study courses in Mexico and Peru. Dr. George Taylor, who later went on to become president of the Saline County historical society, and David Clark who made it possible for some 300 students and community members to witness Haley’s Comet through a Wesleyan telescope. And there was Dr. Sue McDonald who inspired the physics club to launch a weather balloon 96,000 feet in the air, and Dr. Yuan Chiang, who directed a litmus project for NASA that included an attempt to make the paper color change—to purple and gold of course!
In the early days of the university, much of the Wesleyan community held membership in the First United Methodist Church on 8th Street; however, a lack of transportation and unpaved roads made it difficult to attend services, elevating the need for an on-campus church. Space constraints soon spurred conversations of building a stand-alone church across the street. Wesleyan faculty and staff donated a percentage of their salaries to fund the church, which opened in 1917, as University United Methodist Church.
The relationship between Kansas Wesleyan and University United Methodist Church has flourished for nearly a century. Many of the ministers and staff received degrees from Kansas Wesleyan, and many of our students became active members and administrators at the church. The Lectionary Cross you see today is carried in all formal events on campus. Carved on the cross are the KWU and UUMC letters, symbolizing the strong connection between the university and its neighbor church.
University United Methodist Church has become part of the Wesleyan experience, including providing the longtime traditional Sunday Buck Meal for our students. Together, the University United Methodist Church ministers and our campus ministry staff provide numerous opportunities for faith sharing, prayer and dialogue that allow students of all faiths to feel welcome as they continue to search for meaning in their life.
More than 10,000 students have found the unique blend of academic excellence and spiritual development a perfect foundation for personal and professional growth at Kansas Wesleyan University.
In the spring of 2012, my "Hands On History" class was assigned the task of making videos about the history of KWU. Several of them were posted on you tube, and I thought you might be able to use them sometime.
The history of Pioneer Hall:
The history of the KWU debate program:
The early years of KWU football: