Emporia State University celebrated its 149th birthday with a luncheon in Webb Hall of the Memorial Union Tuesday.
During the first birthday celebration for Michael Shonrock, the 16th ESU President, the focus was a proud past and a focused future.
“Birthdays are a time of celebration,” said Shonrock. “A time to reflect on our past and the things that made a difference. Everyone in this room, someone has made a difference in our lives over these years. If you do anything today, e-mail, text, call, someone that has made a difference in your life.”
On ESU’s birthday, Shonrock looked back at the history of the college and the impact ESU has had over the years. Established in 1863 as the Kansas Normal School, ESU became the Kansas State Teacher’s College in 1923, then changed its name to Emporia State Teacher’s College in 1974 before obtaining its present moniker in 1977.
“We have literally been changing lives since 1863,” said Shonrock. “As we look forward to changing lives in the future.”
Shonrock also spoke of the history of Memorial Union, which was the first student union established west of the Mississippi River.
“If you think about where we were and where we are today and the facility itself,” said Shonrock. “Facilities are part of an institution, but it’s the people that are in the institution that will make the biggest difference. I’m pleased that we were the first to be established as an institution. We were the first to have the student union west of the Mississippi ... In 1948, Emporia State University beat the University of Kansas in basketball.”
Also part of the festivities was “The Birthday Song” led by ESU Alumni Association Chair Tyler Curtis and Associated Student Government President Ashley Vogts and a cake cutting by professor emeritus Dwayne Backhus and Sodexo Catering Director Kimberly Reyes.
Musical entertainment was provided by the ESU Student Woodwind Quintet.