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History of the Department of Biology

The Early Years

The Auxiliary Manual Training Normal School opened in Pittsburg in September 1903. It later became Kansas State Teacher's College of Pittsburg and then Pittsburg State University.

State normal schools prepared teachers for teaching "manual training" and "domestic science". Manual training included the industrial arts of woodworking and drafting for men. The domestic sciences for women included the design of garments, embroidery, millinery, home economics, and sewing and cooking. High school graduates came here to obtain a teaching certificate after a two-year program of instruction. Students without a high school diploma could also enroll here to finish their high school work and then continue on to obtain a teaching certificate. Later, a three-year certificate was offered.

As a part of the education of these high school students and future teachers, instruction in the sciences was needed as described here:

"The two-year curriculum offered during the opening year of the Manual Training Normal School, 1903-1904, included a ten-weeks (half-semester) course in physiology. The course was taught by Edwin Augustus Shepardson, who was employed to teach the "academic subjects," and was designated professor of mathematics and science in the announcement of the second year. The announcement for the third year, 1905-1906, named John Galatine Hall as professor of natural science and German, and described courses in botany and zoology." [Bawden, p. 171]

"Biological science was mentioned for the first time in a list of high-school units required for entrance in the announcement for 1909-1910. The description of college courses under the title, ‘Biological Science,' appeared in the announcement for the eighth year, 1910-1911, and in the faculty list, Oris Polk Dellinger, who came to the Normal School in September, 1909, was named professor of biology. The fall of 1909, therefore, may be accepted as the beginning of the Department of Biological Sciences, although it was not specifically designated a department until 1912." [Bawden, p. 171]

Dr. Dellinger went on to serve as head of the department for 30 years, from 1909 to 1939. He made many contributions to the school including serving as acting President after the death of President Brandenburg on October 29, 1940 until Rees H. Hughes became President on July 1, 1941.

Bawden described Dr. Dellinger as "an original investigator and creative thinker" who had "attracted the attention of the scientific world by the published reports of studies made by graduate students under his supervision, of studies made by scientists with whom he collaborated, and of his own investigation" and devoted a full chapter to the contributions of Dr. Dellinger (more information on Dr. Dellinger at menu link).