Chadron State College celebrates 100 years of excellence | TheFencePost.com

Chadron State College celebrates 100 years of excellence

Beth Gibbons
Crawford, Neb.

Chadron State College began in 1911, according to my mother’s 1928-1929 catalog; it was called ‘Chadron Normal’ and considered a teacher’s college. My father-in law, Harry Gibbons, moved to Crawford that year with his brother, sister and parents from Walt Hill, Neb. He often told me, “Crawford was offered the college and city hall and turned them both down.”

I took notes and asked my mother questions while looking through her college catalog. She said there were no student dorms, “I stayed in a private home at 944 Main Street with five other girls.” The girls worked for some of their board and room. My mother said they changed beds each week to help the owner. They washed lower sheets and put the top sheet down on the bottom. The girls were given a small allowance for their work. My Mother walked down town and spent some of her allowance on an Indian doll with a papoose on its back. The lady was displeased and quit giving cash for work.

College fees began at $.50 per credit. Later they were raised to $2.00, my mother said. Each quarter was 12 weeks and there were three quarters of school per year. “Three times tardy for class resulted in ‘an absence.'” A committee ruled on accepting absences or excuses, according to the book.

A special legislature session in 1921 gave all state teachers’ colleges authority to grant BS and BFA degrees. Is that a Farming degree? “Chadron grants a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree to promote educational interests in Western Nebraska,” it said. The two year college Normal School diploma entitled the recipient to a Professional Life Teaching Certificate.

There were restrictions in behavior and a dress code. A foreign language was required of every student. My mother took Latin and frequently referred to the origin of our English words from Latin words she learned.

Chadron college campus consisted of 80 acres. “Buttes with canyons interspersed comprise nearly one half of the grounds. The balance of the acreage is devoted to cultivated stretches, garden, pasture, athletic field, tennis courts and the campus,” the book said.

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The catalog wrote, “There are five buildings: the administration, gymnasium, and training school, dormitory and power house.” It indicated that the library and stadium were added the following year.

“The administration building is built of brick with concrete floors and is modern throughout.” It contains 47 classrooms, offices, cloakrooms and storerooms. The gym cost $125,000 with central portion and live in section. “The agriculture department has a large modern barn, a chicken house and a hog house.” My mother explained, “Edna Work was Dean of Women Students and much admired on campus” while she was there.

College organizations were YWCA, YMCA, Alpha Phi Pu, Zeta Alpha, and Kappa Theta Sigma. The book said, Phi Beta Sigma and Delta Pi Sigma were “to promote Christian influence, develop social, literary and parliamentary lines to promote scholarship and maintain high ideals and foster school spirit.” There was debating and oratory in the Philomath Society which included Essay and Athletics.

Some teachers spanned the years from 1928 to 1958, when I graduated from Chadron State College with a two year degree. Dr. Lyle Andrews, Miss Hazel Reynolds and Miss Steckelberg, were teachers I knew who were also there when my mother was. She said students liked Dr. Andrews and feared Miss Reynolds, the student teacher supervisor. I had the first two and I learned a lot from both. Dr. Andrews was still a favorite of many students. Miss Reynolds taught teacher education. I liked her better after I was out of college and saw her as a friend. She admired my babies. My mother and I agreed we were intimidated by her during college years. She was a demanding professor of education. Miss Steckelberg helped foreign students when I knew her. They all loved her.

Peru State Normal was established in 1867 by the Nebraska legislature, Kearney was established in 1905 and Wayne State in 1910. The college catalog states, “At the time Chadron State Normal was established it was thought its regular attendance would never equal that of other normal schools of the state.” The Chadron library was scheduled for completion in September of 1929.

At present there are about 3,000 on campus at Chadron College and it’s on par with the other ‘Normal schools,’ having made the most rapid advance. They dropped the Normal title and are considered broad based education facility.

Our mother went back to Chadron during the summer of 1943 to get her teaching certificate renewed to teach her children the year we were the only students in our rural district. Education was important to my mother and to her family. We claim it as our Alma Mater. I dreamed of graduating while my parents were alive to see me graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from CSC. I did and they did. We had a cake and pictures afterwards to celebrate the occasion. I have the cutest pictures of my grandchildren trying on my mortar cap. My favorite is of Will with a baby bottle in his mouth wearing my blue graduation cap.