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Morning Sun
  • PSU celebrates Apple Day

  • The Pittsburg State University community spent Apple Day celebrating its heritage and some of the many accomplishments of its students, faculty and alumni.

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  • The Pittsburg State University community spent Apple Day celebrating its heritage and some of the many accomplishments of its students, faculty and alumni.
    The history of Apple Day harks back to the university’s founding, and during the convocation event Thursday afternoon Randy Roberts, the university’s archivist, shared the history of the birth of Pittsburg State University, which included lobbying efforts and accidental improprieties at the state level, for which the university received funding to build Russ Hall, but also was fined a barrel of apples.
    At that time, Roberts said, state legislators disliked the idea of a university in southeast Kansas.
    “Kansas can certainly find a better place to spend money than in Crawford County,” one legislator said at the time.
    Roberts said that legislator was wrong and the new school became increasingly popular.
    Roberts also talked about the leadership that guided the university through challenging times, such as the Russ Hall fire and also helped set it on its way to independence from Emporia State University.
    “Pittsburg State University is a special place with a great story to tell,” Roberts said.
    “Apple Day is our unique tradition at Pitt State,” Roberts continued. “(It is a) reminder that each of us can and should desire to respond excellently in all that we do.”
    The theme of leadership continued during the commemoration day address by PSU Alumnus Major General Lee Tafanelli, Adjutant General of Kansas.
    Tafanelli said he joined the Kansas National Guard while the Cold War was still very hot and his time in service since then has given him exposure to examples of great and poor leadership.
    Tafanelli said a lot of things have changed since his service began and told students it is crucial to continue learning in order to be leaders in a global market.
    “In other words, my friends, you are never done learning,” Tafanelli said, and he recommended ways for students to do so. “Become a voracious consumer of ideas, concepts and information.”
    Tafanelli also talked about leadership within service and said the mission always comes first, then the team and then the individual self.
    The convocation events continued with presentation of 2013 Dr. Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Awards to recipients Catherine Albright and Alan and Roberta Whetzel, who also were honored in a ceremony at the Wilkinson Alumni Office prior to the convocation.
    Albright was honored for her service to PSU, beginning as a student caller and continuing with service to the PSU Foundation, on the PSU Presidential Search committee and as the scholarship contact for the Mary Frances Duffin Scholarship. She and her husband, Jay, have made a number of significant gifts to the university and established a Testamentary Trust.
    Page 2 of 2 - Alan and Roberta Whetzel both earned bachelor of science degrees in education from Pittsburg State University and met on a Pitt State Basketball trip in 1958. In 2012, they gave $1.2 million for a dramatic renovation of John Lance Arena, including a new hardwood floor and new seating.
    This year’s Dr. Robert K Ratzlaff Outstanding Faculty Awards were presented to Tatiana Sildus, associate professor, Troy Comeau, director of broadcasting and Aesha John, assistant professor of social work.
    Also presented were the Golden Gorilla Awards, which were given to 26 students, and the Centennial Scholarships, one for $1,000 and one for $500. Apple Day contest winners also were announced.
    Faculty carried out the traditional fine of a barrel of apples and passed fruit out to students as they left the convocation.

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