On Thursday, March 3, the PSU campus will celebrate Apple Day for the 104th time and members of the Faculty Association will give away apples at the traditional convocation.
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. 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."
Roberts said that while it may not be important for the students, faculty, staff and alumni to know all of the historical details surrounding Apple Day, it is important to remember the people who played such important roles in establishing the university and nurturing it through its infancy.
"Pittsburg State University has a rich and colorful history," Roberts said. "These people and these events are part of our DNA and they laid the foundation for much of what we cherish about this place."