Winter 2001

New Chemistry

The home of “new chemistry,” McKinley Hall, was rededicated Sept. 26 after the state’s “crumbling classrooms” funding — plus private donations — created a state-of-the-art academic department.

A total of 117 WSU supporters gave $412,000 for the project. Speaking at the dedication were Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, WSU President Don Beggs, Betty Christian, a chief benefactor, Lieutenant Gov. Gary Sherrer and JoAnn McKinley ’50, daughter of the building’s namesake. Part of her address follows:

This building and I are about the same vintage. However, it has been renovated. I haven’t. I was born on Aug. 1, 1928. I am not sure when this building was conceived or delivered, but I understand it was completed in record time at a cost of $212,000 and dedicated on May 29, 1929. Before it was built, the science labs were in the basement of Fairmount Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1929. That would have been two years after my father, Lloyd McKinley, became chairman of the chemistry department, a position he held for 33 years.

On June 6, 1964, in their last act before the university entered into the state system, the Board of Regents honored educators by renaming campus buildings: Science Hall became Lloyd McKinley Science Hall; the Commons Auditorium, George Wilner Auditorium; the Fine Arts Center, Walter Duerksen Fine Arts Center; the music library in the Fine Arts Center was named for Thurlow Lieurence; and a gallery in the Fine Arts Center, for Elizabeth Sprague.

A Sunflower article on the renaming reported that 221 chemistry majors graduated during Lloyd McKinley’s chairmanship of the department and that he was listed in Who’s Who in America and in American Men of Science. As my father’s daughter and as a 1950 graduate of Wichita University, a science student and a financial contributor, I am pleased to have been invited to be here today.

My earliest memory of this building is of a sulfurous smell that I associated with getting to play with corks of various sizes, which were stored in a large bin. But the best thing about the science building was the spiral fire escape slide that had entrances on each landing of the central staircase. It was irresistible to children, in part, because we were forbidden to play on it. The slide was eliminated when the building was remodeled in the late 1960s during Dr. Bob Christian’s chairmanship of the chemistry department.

When I was a student at Wichita University, I spent most of my time on the first floor of the science building. At the south end where the greenhouse is still located, I took botany and bacteriology from Dr. C.C. McDonald.

At the north end of the first floor, I took zoology from Dr. Hazel Branch and biology from Dr. Clair Hannum. Dr. Branch, who was ambidextrous and a scientific illustrator by trade, came to Fairmount College in 1922. Long before the feminist revolution, she was a role model for her women students.

Dr. Hannum taught at WU from 1946-64. He was a vivacious man with an infectious laugh. He tended to fulminate about lazy students, politicians, the weather, whatever. Once back on track, he was a dynamic speaker and inspiring teacher. He also did a little acting. As the corpse in the opera, Gianni Schicchi, he was able to make his body rigid so that he could be carried offstage by his head and heels — applied functional anatomy!

Dr. Worth Fletcher joined the chemistry faculty in 1927, the same year as my father. I remember my father as a charming man who was also a successful scientist, educator and administrator. My father’s descendants all share my pride in today’s rededication of McKinley Hall.


New Chemistry

The home of “new chemistry,” McKinley Hall, was rededicated Sept. 26 after the state’s “crumbling classrooms” funding — plus private donations — created a state-of-the-art academic department.

Of the Greatest Value

The roots of WSU Bands go back to 1902 when the university was Fairmount College.


University Tidbits

Shocker Scholars Banquet

Nearly 400 top high school juniors and members of their families, university administrators, students and alumni volunteer hosts came together this fall to talk about Wichita State.