The South West Kansas Conference College
The Board of Trustees of the South West Kansas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church filed a incorporation documents for “The South West Kansas Conference College” with the Kansas Secretary of State. The college location would be at “College Hill” in Winfield. (Photo: Committee on Location.)
First Building Begins
Erection of the college building was well underway. Designed by Willis A. Ritchie, a 21-year old local architect, the imposing four-story structure was completed at a cost of about $60,000, making it one of Winfield’s most expensive structures at the time.
First Day of Classes
First day of classes for the college is September 8, 1886, with an enrollment of 43.
College Hall Completed
College Hall, the first college building (which would eventually become known as North Hall), was completed and used for the first day of classes.
First Class Graduates
On June 3, 1889 Southwestern College graduated its first class— three students.
Magdalene Phillips Library
SC President Dr. Milton E. Phillips and Mrs. Phillips celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with an elaborate reception at the college. Friends and patrons who attended were invited contribute books and money to begin a college library. As a result, a library of more than 2,000 volumes was begun and was known as the “Magdalene Phillips Library.”
1st Annual May Fete
The first annual May Fete originated by the social group, Belles Lettres; in 1921, this tradition was handed over to the whole school and continued on into the 1960s.
Winfield Anti-Saloon Uprising
Southwestern students join with other prohibitionist townsfolk in the famous Winfield anti-saloon uprising.
The Southwestern Moundbuilder yearbook is launched. It is to become the written legacy of Southwestern’s history. View the yearbook archive.
First Motorized Street Car
First motorized street car arrived in Winfield on June 14, 1908. On May 6, 1909, the last trip by mule street car to College Hill marked the end of an era.
Now Southwestern College
The institution’s name changes to Southwestern College.
77 Steps are Built
The 77 Steps are built using mules and man-power, creating a grand entrance up to Richardson Hall.
Faculty has been increased to 35, and instruction is offered in six departments: Academy, Liberal Arts, Oratory, Art, Music, and Business.
Straw Hat Season
Professor Latham declares opening of straw hat season on April 5, 1912.
The Jinx is Born
For the first time in history, the Fairmount Wheatshockers are beaten 41-3 by the Moundbuilders on November 11, 1912. A Southwestern student prepared a tombstone with the figure of a black cat at the top and the score underneath. The black cat came to be called the "Jinx." SC continued to beat Fairmount for the next 14 consecutive years. Read the story of the Jinx
The Southwestern Alma Mater first appears in a college yearbook. Written by Florence M. Cate, professor of Latin and French at Southwestern for 17 years, the song begins with now familiar words, “Far above the Walnut Valley, on a lofty height…”
Greater Southwestern Campaign
The Board of Trustees approves the “Campaign for Greater Southwestern” to raise money to offset operational deficits that tuition does not cover. The campaign opened in October 1915 and closed in December 1916, with $678,000 subscribed.
Official accreditation is given to Southwestern College by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.
Order of the Mound
The faculty of Southwestern establish the Order of the Mound, to provide recognition of scholastic achievement for seniors.
With high schools appearing in most Kansas communities, the 31-year-old Southwestern Academy is discontinued.
Eleven members of the Southwestern College Dramatic Class, along with their teacher, Miss Martha Lee, lay the foundations for the Campus Players for the purpose of furthering the amateur standards of the school. At that time, membership was fixed at fifteen – nine men and six women.
May Day Festival
Southwestern holds its first annual May Day Festival, including crowning of the May Queen.
The first intercollegiate debate tournament is held on the Southwestern College campus. Southwestern is a charter member of Pi Delta Kappa, the national debate fraternity. Debate teams from SC through the years will build a tradition of excellence that will continue for many decades.
Stewart Field House
Affectionately known as “Bill’s Parthenon” in honor of SC’s director and coach of Athletics and Physical Training, Willis S. Bates, Stewart Field House is completed and ready for use. It is the oldest basketball facility west of the Mississippi River still used for its original purpose.
Pi Gamma Mu
Pi Gamma Mu, which would grow to become the international Social Science society with chapters in colleges and universities all over the world, is started by Dean Leroy Allen at Southwestern College. By 1930 Pi Gamma Mu had grown into one hundred and five chapters throughout the U.S., with nearly eleven thousand members.
Winfield College of Music
The Winfield College of Music consolidates with Southwestern to form the School of Fine Arts at Southwestern College.
Dean Leroy Allen proposes a new custom, unique among colleges of the world - "The Building of the Mound Ceremony." This custom has become a tradition and the hallmark of Southwestern College. At the beginning of every school year, each of the Southwestern students, faculty, and friends places on this mound a rock bearing his name, thus signifying his desire to be a Builder. Learn about Building the Mound
Five oil wells are drilled on the Southwestern College campus; four are good producers. In the spring of 1937, the derricks were torn down and the campus was once again quiet from the creaking sound of the engines as they pumped.
President Kirk asks Miss Helen Graham to direct a Christmas play for the final chapel before Christmas vacation. In her files, she found her script of Eagerheart by A.M. Buckton. Dr. Kirk is so pleased that he asks for a repeat performance the next year. The play has been performed at the final chapel before Christmas nearly every year since.
The Winfield Oratorio Society presents Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” for the first time.
NAIA Basketball Champs
The Southwestern College men’s basketball team wins the NAIA Championship.
Peace returns to the world and men return to the college. The largest freshman class in SC history has swelled this year’s enrollment to over 600 students.
Sonner Football Stadium, gift of P.J. Sonner, is built.
Richardson Hall, built in 1910, burns on April 16, 1950. At this time, the college had only three main buildings, Richardson Hall, Stewart Field House, and North Hall- and North Hall had been condemned and was in the process of being torn down. The college’s future was very much in doubt. In spite of the damage, at graduation, seniors still marched up the 77 steps on Cap and Gown Day.
Million Dollar Building Program
The Central Kansas Conference of the United Methodist Church votes to continue the college and assures its future through the “Million Dollar Building Program.” Richardson Hall would be rebuilt within the original stone shell, and christened Christy Administration Building.
Alvin the Alligator
The campus' unofficial mascot for four decades became affiliated with SC when members of the Pi Epsilon Pi fraternity brought a pair of six-inch alligators back from vacation. Before long an SC biology professor became the keeper of Pi and Ep (names of the original pair.) When Pi ate Ep, the survivor was renamed "Alvin” and soon became a highlight of campus tours. (Photo from 1977)
The Mound Moved
The Mound, which had been located at the top of the hill, north of Christy Hall, is moved to a new permanent location at the bottom of the hill in front of Mossman Hall.
Darbeth Fine Arts Center
The highlight of SC's 80th Founders Day was the laying of the cornerstone for the Darbeth Fine Arts Center. This modern structure, located where the original Mound once stood, houses the music and art departments.
"Whoopsie Daisy" Sculpture
Controversial sculpture of “Whoopsie Daisy” arrives on campus. The piece of art would be the subject of many discussions of whether it belongs on a church-related, liberal arts campus.
Football Team goes Undefeated
The season provided nine triumphs and a tie, giving SC its first undefeated season since 1918. The Moundbuilder team placed nine of its members on the KCAC all-conference team and Coach Bud Elliott was elected "Coach of the Year" by his fellow coaches in the Kansas Conference.
Walnut Valley Folk Festival
On October 23, 1971 The Walnut Valley Folk Festival is born on Southwestern’s campus. The Cultural Arts Board and SAA sponsor the festival. With afternoon workshops, concerts, and a fantastic display of flat-pickin’, this is the perfect beginning for what would become the internationally known Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.
Horsefeathers & Applesauce
The Walnut Valley Horsefeathers and Applesauce summer theatre program is born through the fertile imagination of Norman Callison. Shows for the first season are: “Oklahoma”, “Star Spangled Girl”, “Music Man”, “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, and “Spoon River Anthology.”
Builders Around the World
“Builders Around the World,” a collection of flags represented by Southwestern students and faculty from other countries, is established and displayed on special days at SC.
A Professional Studies Center opens in downtown Winfield for learners completing college degrees. This, plus centers in such sites as Wichita and Oklahoma City, would combine with online opportunities to give college opportunities to thousands of working adults.
Stewart Field House Renovation
Stewart Field House, built in 1924, is the oldest field house still in use for its original purpose. This summer saw the completion of a 1.5 million dollar, three phase renovation to update it into a modern athletic facility.
Beech Science Center
Beech Science Center and Mabee Laboratory Complex is opened with the most up-to-date science facilities around.
Southwestern is the first college/university in the region to issue laptops to all new students. SC is also the first college in Kansas to go wireless with access provided in all classrooms and commons areas.
Alvin the Alligator Dies
Alvin the Alligator dies on January 13, 2000, and an autopsy reveals that he is really a she. Alvin would be preserved by a taxidermist for permanent display in “his” home in Mossman Hall.
77 Steps Rebuilt
The 77 Steps, originally constructed in 1910, are rebuilt, with the pride and emotion that have made them a nearly century-long tradition of Southwestern College.
Helmer's 25th KCAC Championship
This year marks the 25th year that Coach Jim Helmer has trained his Moundbuilder cross country team to take a first place finish in the KCAC – and the team produces their 25th KCAC Championship. This marks the 21st season the men’s team heads to nationals during Helmer’s coaching career.
Builder Camp, a 3-day adventure for incoming freshmen, and Fall Frenzy with a carnival, are among the newest traditions at SC.
Cole Mound Plaza
The Mound is transformed with a new retaining wall, alumni tributes in brick, and an adjoining plaza.
The Harold and Mary Ellen Deets Library is renovated to bring it up to first-class standards for a college library in the 21st century.
Biological Field Station
The Norman Hege Educational Center at Southwestern College's Floyd and Edna Moore Biological Field Station is dedicated on November, 14, 2009. The log cabin contains a large classroom which is completely off the grid, generating its own power using solar panels and a wind turbine.
The Richard L. Jantz Stadium is dedicated on October 2, 2010. Southwestern College partners with the Winfield Public Schools to build the $4 million sports complex.
Richardson Performing Arts Center
The completely renovated Richardson Performing Arts Center is dedicated on October 8, 2011 at Homecoming.
A Skystream 3.7 land turbine system is installed thanks to a grant from the Wind for Schools program and is dedicated March 14, 2012.
Reuters Organ Dedication
On April 21, 2012 the newly-renovated Reuters Organ is dedicated with an organ concert featuring retired SC professor of music Dr. James H. Strand and James M. Leland.