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The second floor of the Ahearn Gymnasium adjoining Ahearn Field House is hot and spooky, and aside from a few classrooms, the only inhabitants are a handful of offices for the Department of Economics at Kansas State University.
The stairwell doors open to a lookout over volleyball practice courts. Around the corner, there is a glass display case on the wall. Given the relative lack of student traffic in the Ahearn Gymnasium, the case is now mostly empty.
However, the case contains a small piece of K-State history: two items tacked on the left side, a flyer and an information card, both old and faded. The information card has been ripped in the corner where it is tacked to the board.
“ACWA,” the top of the flyer declares. “Administrative Careers with America.”
According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, ACWA was developed in the 1980s as a series of written tests to replace the Professional and Administrative Career Exam, which had been found by a federal court to be biased against racial minorities.
ACWA seeks to help fill entry-level positions in the federal government. The iteration of ACWA featured on the flyer discusses six examinations to help fill openings in different governmental areas.
ACWA still exists as a function of the Office of Personnel Management today. However, instead of the six different content areas and a paper examination, the ACWA is an ability test with verbal and mathematic reasoning portions and the Individual Achievement Record. Additionally, the ACWA more frequently takes place online now, rather than as a written test.
According to the information card alongside the flyer, the promotion of the ACWA to K-State students was thanks to the work of Tracey L. Fraser, assistant director of the Career Planning and Placement Center.
According to archived K-State campus directories, currently located in Special Collections in Bluemont 116, Fraser first held the role of assistant director in the Career Planning and Placement Center in the 1991-1992 academic year.
Fraser continued to hold that position through the 1994-1995 academic year. A gap exists in the directories between 1995 and 1998, but in the 1998-1999 academic year, Fraser had taken the role of director.
However, in addition to Fraser’s position changing, the name of the Career Planning and Placement Center had changed as well. The 1994-1995 campus directory lists the new office name as Career and Employment Services.
Thus, Fraser must have hung the ACWA sign in Ahearn Gymnasium between the fall of 1991 and the spring of 1994.
The Ahearn Gymnasium was likely used in this time frame as classroom and office space. Both Ahearn Gymnasium and Ahearn Field House were refurbished after 1988, when the home court of the K-State basketball teams was moved to Bramlage Coliseum.
What used to be the Career Planning and Placement Center and later the Career and Employment Services is now the Career Center. The location has also moved from Holtz Hall to the Berney Family Welcome Center.
While the methods mentioned in the ACWA flyer, the personnel and the name of the office have changed, K-State students still have access to valuable career resources and guidance — and they don’t have to go to the deserted hallways of Ahearn Gymnasium to find out about them.