Imagine graduating from K-State in the 1870s. Of course, it wasn't called K-State yet — it wasn't even a university. Trees and buildings on campus were sparse, and Aggieville was not exactly the social gathering place it is now.
At that time, Kansas State Agricultural College graduates began thinking about starting an alumni group. During commencement week 1874, these alumni first met in Manhattan's Presbyterian church against the wishes of then university President John Anderson. They envisioned what their new society would offer its members — one being a reunion banquet held every three years after graduation for all new and former graduates of the college.
These triennial reunions were replaced by annual luncheons in 1910, and then by elaborate evening banquets for alumni, seniors and faculty starting in 1928.
As the number of graduates increased, so did the number of programs the Association directed. The group developed membership benefits. One program was sending copies of the school newspaper, the Industrialist, for one year after graduation and to all continuing active members of the Association.
The Association created formal structures with office space, full-time staff and elected board members. The staff contacted legislators to explain the needs of the college and to seek support for higher education, which is still an important role alumni play today.
By the 1950s, the organization looked more like today's Alumni Association. The K-Stater magazine was first published in 1951. The first Alumni Medallion was presented in 1969.
The Association office moved from Anderson Hall in 1970 to Hollis House, sharing space with the Endowment Association (later known as the Kansas State University Foundation).
The 1980s and 1990s were important years for program development, including the Alumni Fellows, Student Alumni Board, Homecoming, international travel, student recruitment, multicultural alumni programs, a website and the Powercat license plate scholarship program. Alumni staff offices also moved to the KSU Foundation Center on Anderson Avenue.
With the dawn of a new millennium, a successful fundraising campaign allowed the Association to build the K-State Alumni Center next to Memorial Stadium.
Since 2002, the Center has been a welcoming place for alumni, university and community events, as well as a stage where the Association will continue to grow and enjoy an exciting future.