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July 1, 2014

Wichita State University marks 50 years in state system

Wichita State University turned 50 on Tuesday.

Wichita State University turned 50 on Tuesday.

On July 1, 1964, the University of Wichita officially joined the state system and received a new name.

No official celebrations were planned Tuesday but Joe Kleinsasser, director of news and media relations, said a celebration is planned this fall when the construction work on the new Shocker Hall and Rhatigan Student Center is completed.

Still, the 50th anniversary is significant, said Jay Price, History department chair at Wichita State University.

“This is what makes WSU. Before that we were a city-run university,” Price said. “This was part of a large wave of schools across the country that become part of state systems. The G.I. Bill plays a role in the focus of that status.”

WSU began in 1896 Fairmount College. In 1926, it became the Municipal University of Wichita.

In 1964, it was a time when the University of Kansas and Kansas State University were considered Kansas’ top universities.

And although they still are major state universities, so now is WSU.

On Tuesday, Price dressed in yellow and black and made his history students sing “Happy Birthday, WSU!”

“WSU is big to the Wichita story,” Price said. “Now, people are thinking about black and yellow and wearing it.”

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