Pittsburg State University will observe Apple Day on Thursday, March 7, but the week is filled with activities that honor the university’s oldest tradition.
Events begin on Monday, March 4, with an Apple Scavenger Hunt that runs through Wednesday, March 6. At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6, judges will sample entries in the annual Apple Dessert Contest.
On Thursday, March 7, this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipients will be honored at a reception at 2 p.m. in the Wilkinson Alumni Center. The annual Apple Day Convocation will begin at 3 p.m. in the Sharon K. Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall. PSU alumnus Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general for the State of Kansas, will be the keynote speaker.
At the convocation, the university will recognize the Distinguished Service Award recipients as well and the Golden Gorilla Award recipients for student leadership. This year’s Outstanding Faculty Awards will also be announced.
At the conclusion of the convocation, members of the PSU Faculty Association will distribute apples.
Randy Roberts, PSU archivist and curator of special collections, said that although Apple Day is among the university's oldest and most recognized traditions, not many people know the story behind the celebration or its association with apples.
Roberts recounted the events that led to the first Apple Day in his book, "Pittsburg State University: A Photographic History of the First 100 Years."
"In 1905, Russell S. Russ, school founder, and the school's supporters in the Kansas legislature secured an appropriation to purchase land for a campus. In 1907 Russ returned to the legislature lobbying for funds to construct the first building on the new campus. While the legislature was in session, Russ sat in the chair of one of the legislators. Faculty members from the State Manual Training Normal (which would become PSU) and Clarence Price the mayor of Pittsburg, were also on the floor. For these improprieties, the Pittsburg delegation was fined a barrel of apples, which was purchased and distributed among the members of the legislature.
"History is clear, however, that when the triumphant Russ returned to Pittsburg with news of the appropriation, he called a school assembly at which the student body fined the faculty a barrel of apples...
"The commemoration of the building appropriation was celebrated the following year in 1908 and a tradition was born. Commemoration Day, always known as Apple Day, became a major event on campus and throughout Kansas."
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