Sesquicentennial brings back memories for alumni


K-State’s 150th birthday is bringing back many memories for K-State alumni. Some came back to K-State for their careers while others credit K-State for many experiences and memories that they will cherish forever.

Steve Smethers, K-State alumnus and associate professor of journalism and mass communications at K-State, graduated in 1976 and eventually found himself back at K-State. Smethers came back to K-State for graduate school from 1983-1985 during which time he taught courses as well. Smethers said he loved the classroom so much that he decided to remain a teacher.

“I haven’t left the classroom yet,” Smethers said. “I have been teaching since 1983.”

After graduate school, Smethers went on to teach at Northwest Missouri State University as well as Oklahoma State University from 1992-2002. He then returned a final time when he began teaching at K-state in 2003.

“I was very elated to come back to Kansas,” Smethers said. “It was a chance for me to give back.”

Smethers said that this is his dream job and discussed instructors that he was fond of while in school, such as David MacFarland and Bob Fidler. While at K-State, Smethers became the KSDB Program Director. His job included keeping the staff of around a 100 coordinated and keeping the playlist fresh.

He said that there are great people at K-State that he really enjoyed and is still friends with, even after 40 years.

“[I] learned more about myself through my undergraduate days at K-State than I did previously,” Smethers said.

Bob Larsen, 1953 K-State alumnus with a degree in agronomy, said he loved his time spent at K-State. Larsen began in 1948, and said he fondly recalls the days when basketball was played in the small gymanism in Nichols Hall. He said that he could only go to every other game due to the limited space in the building and the amount of students attending games. He also recalled the in-state rivalry games against KU, especially one game in particular.

“When KU came in [K-State students] threw a bunch of chickens on them,” Larsen said.

Larsen also recalled the fun times he had going to football games and belonging to his fraternity Alpha Gamma Rho.

Joyce Hansen, 1956 K-State alumna with a degree in physical education, said she went to all of the sporting events and recalled the great K-State basketball teams along with the awful football teams before Bill Snyder’s time.

Hansen said she loved the intramurals that K-State offered, as well as the political convention she was a part of.

“We had a mock political convention. It was really fun,” Hansen said.

Hansen said she also loved her experiences in the sorority Kappa Delta.

K-State looked much different in the 50s than it does today. Larsen said that everybody walked everywhere, as most people did not own a vehicle or other forms of transportation. He said that the school system was also a bit different, sometimes having classes on Saturday.

One aspect that remains the same, however, is the amount of work involved for students. Not only did Larsen spend time on homework, he also worked at a gas station during his time at K-State. He said during the summers he spent time working in his field, gaining experience.

Hansen also recalled the amount of work that she had to put in for her studies. She said she valued her work experiences, as well, enabling her to obtain the finances needed to go to school. Hansen said she worked on campus and at a bookstore across the street from campus.

Larsen said his fondest memory was meeting his wife, who is also a K-State graduate.

After graduation Larsen went into the army for two years during the Korean War and worked with anti-aircraft units. After the war he worked with his degree for a few years before going back to farming. Despite the length of time since his graduation, he is still able to count K-State not only as a good time, but one that gave him great experience. He and his wife are now KSU Alumni Association members.

After graduating from K-State, Hansen went on to teach first at the high school level, then at Colby Community College for 23 years. She said that she is still grateful to K-State for all that it has given her.