March 04, 2014 12:00AM
Pittsburg State University is observing Apple Day, its oldest tradition, this week. Apple Day or “Commemoration Day” is Thursday, March 6, but a number of related events are taking place Tuesday through Thursday in honor of one of the most significant events in the university’s 111-year history.
The Apple Scavenger Hunt began Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 5, a panel of judges will reward students and staff who have demonstrated the best culinary skills in the Apple Pie and Apple Dessert Contest.
At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the campus will rededicate an apple tree that was planted in 1994 on the island in the University Lake, but has since lost its dedication plaque.
Apple Day, on Thursday, March 6, begins with a public reception for this year’s Dr. Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award recipients, Steve and Mary Beth Robb and Barry Williamson. The reception is at 2 p.m. in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
At 3 p.m., Thursday, students, faculty, staff and alumni will gather in the Sharon K. Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall for the traditional Apple Day Convocation. The keynote speaker for the convocation is Paula Baker, president and CEO of Freeman Health Systems, and a PSU alumna.
In addition to honoring the Distinguished Service Award recipients, the convocation also recognizes the student Golden Gorilla Student Leadership Award recipients and the 2014 Dr. Robert K. Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Award recipients.
The convocation concludes with the drawing for the Centennial Scholarships, presented by the PSU Foundation, Inc. In keeping with more than a century of tradition, members of the PSU Faculty Association will distribute apples to convocation attendees as they leave McCray Hall.
Apple Day’s genesis can be traced to the earliest days of the Kansas State Manual Training Normal School, now Pittsburg State University. The battle for funding the school’s first building was fierce and in pressing their case, local leaders violated legislative rules. The funding bill passed, but Pittsburg officials were fined a barrel of apples for their infraction.
Upon their triumphal return to Pittsburg, the story of the fine was told. In those days, students were disciplined for their absences. In the spirit of the celebration, students fined Principal R.S. Russ and members of his faculty a barrel of apples because they had been gone to Topeka to help lobby. Thus, with the funding of the building we now call Russ Hall, the tradition of Apple Day was established in 1907.