Kansas State Social Club celebrates 100 years

Kansas State Social Club celebrates 100 years

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Screaming fans at a football game illustrate an incredible loyalty to K-State, but just as much dedicated love for the University can be found in a quiet conference room where the only sounds are a low murmur of conversation over clinking silverware.

Such was the case on Tuesday afternoon during the 100th anniversary of the K-State Social Club luncheon at the Manhattan Country Club.

The Social Club is an assortment of mostly female K-State professors and/or their spouses – men have only been allowed admittance since a decree in 1975. They celebrated the 100th anniversary of the club with a trip down memory lane through PowerPoint presentations and tables covered with clippings and historical papers from decades past.

Also adding to the celebration was a proclamation from Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declaring November 1 as ‘Kansas State Social Club Day’ in honor of the organization.

The K-State Social Club was founded in 1911 by Margaret Ward Waters, the wife of then-president Henry Jackson Waters, as a way for the families of the university faculty to get together. At that time there were around 3,000 sudents, 100 professors and 15 courses offered at K-State.

“Well, 100 professors was a lot to them back then,” said Rae Staemy, current member and Social Club president from 1967-1968. “So Margaret decided to start a way for the women to get to know each other.”

Staemy spent “a great deal of time” preparing for the luncheon over the summer by searching through archives at Hale Library for letters, information and photos from the early days of the club.

“Back when it was started, women couldn’t get a job if they got married,” said Michaeline Chance-Reay, Social Club president from 2001-2002 and 2010-2011 and assistant professor in the College of Education. “It was really just a way for women to get together and do something good, and it still is.”

Chance-Reay wrote a book titled, “Land-Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives,” that explains the history of both the Social Club and the first ladies of K-State. Noel Schulz, current university first lady, was present for the meeting.

Each year, the club awards $1,750 between four undergraduate and graduate scholarships to “mostly non-traditional female students who might have some rough circumstances when paying for college,” said Nancy Prawl, who served as Social Club president from 1996-1997.

Among the attendees were 22 past Social Club presidents, such as Staemy, Chance-Reay and Prawl, as well as the current president, Sandra Brase, whose husband teaches in the psychology department.

In the late 1940s through the early part of the 1960s, the club saw their highest membership – an average of over 500 members each year. Membership steadily declined over the subsequent years to where it is today – around 85.

“Times change,” said Prawl. “It’s not as important as it used to be. The women have jobs now, social lives outside of the university. It used to be a huge part of socialization back then.”

Also present were Marjorie Heyne and Betty Mosier. Heyne has been a member of the club for 73 years. She joined the club the same year she moved to Manhattan in 1938. Mosier, who has been a member for 66 years, is the wife of former animal science professor Jacob E. Mosier, for whom Mosier Hall is named.

“This university has been part of my whole life,” said Heyne. “It means a lot to be here.”

Brase joked about having 100 years of legacy on her shoulders, saying what an honor it was to be a part of the Social Club.

“I’m new [to Manhattan] so this was a great way to get involved and it’s really helped me to get to know some people,” she said.

Currently in Hale Library is an exhibit of portraits of all the university first ladies as well as Chase-Reay’s book.