Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University (Pitt State or PSU) is a public university in Pittsburg, Kansas. It enrolls approximately 7,400 students (6,000 undergraduates and 1,400 graduate students) and is a member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

Pittsburg State University
Former names
Auxiliary Manual Training Normal School (1903–1913)
Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg (1913–1959)
Kansas State College of Pittsburg (1959–1977)
MottoBy doing, learn.
TypePublic university
EstablishedMarch 6, 1903 (1903-03-06)[1]
Parent institution
Kansas Board of Regents
Academic affiliation
Endowment$74.6 million (2020)[2]
PresidentDan Shipp
ProvostHoward W. Smith
Academic staff
Students5,858 (Fall 2022)[4]
Location, ,
United States

37°23′29″N 94°42′09″W
CampusRural, 223 acres (0.90 km2)
ColorsCrimson and gold[5]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIThe MIAA
MascotGus the Gorilla


Naming History
19031913Auxiliary Manual Training Normal School
19131959Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg
19591977Kansas State College of Pittsburg
1977presentPittsburg State University (PSU)

Pittsburg State University was founded in 1903 as the Auxiliary Manual Training Normal School, originally a branch of the State Normal School of Emporia (now Emporia State University). In 1913, it became a full-fledged four-year institution as Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg, or Pittsburg State for short. Over the next four decades, its mission was broadened beyond teacher training. To reflect this, in 1959 its name was changed again to Kansas State College of Pittsburg. It became Pittsburg State University on April 21, 1977.[6]


Pittsburg State has had 11 leaders. The top leadership post was originally titled "principal" from 1903 to 1913. In 1913, the title was changed to president.[7]

  • Russell S. Russ (1903–1911)
  • George E. Myers (1911–1913)
  • William A. Brandenburg (1913–1940)
  • O. P. Dellinger (1940–1941)
  • Rees H. Hughes (1941–1957)
  • Leonard H. Axe (1957–1965)
  • George F. Budd (1965–1977)
  • James Appleberry (1977–1983)
  • Donald W. Wilson (1983–1995)
  • John R. Darling (1995–1999)
  • Tom W. Bryant (1999–2009)
  • Steven A. Scott (2009–2022)
  • Dan Shipp (2022–present)


Aerial view of Pittsburg State University's main campus after snowfall in January 2022.

Located in southeast Kansas, the 223-acre (0.90 km2) campus[8] is also the home of the $30 million Kansas Technology Center, a state-of-the-art technology program in the largest academic building in Kansas.[9]

In December 2014, the university opened the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. The Bicknell Center provides Pittsburg State University with its first true performance facility since 1978, when deterioration forced the closure of Carney Hall. In addition to the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall, the facility also houses a 250-seat theater, a 2,000-square-foot art gallery, grand lobby, reception hall, and multi-use rehearsal space for large musical groups.

PSU also operates a satellite campus in the Kansas City metro area, the Kansas City Metro Center Campus,[10] offering a variety of bachelor's and master's degrees.[11] Two degrees are offered in Salina, Kansas on the campus of Salina Area Technical College.[11]

Student life

Greek organizations

Recognized fraternities and sororities at this university include:

Interfraternity Council Panhellenic Council Multicultural Greek Council
Lambda Chi Alpha fraternityAlpha Gamma Delta sororityAlpha Phi Alpha fraternity
Phi Sigma Kappa fraternityAlpha Sigma Alpha sororityLambda Pi Upsilon sorority
Pi Kappa Alpha fraternitySigma Sigma Sigma sorority
Sigma Chi fraternity
Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity
Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity


PSU is organized into the following schools and colleges:

  • College of Arts and Science
  • Kelce College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Technology

The Kelce College of Business is accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). In addition, research institutes are located on campus such as the Business & Technology Institute and the Kansas Polymer Research Center,[12] housed in the newly completed Tyler Research Center.


Pittsburg State Athletics wordmark

The Pittsburg State athletic teams are called the Gorillas. The university is a member of the NCAA Division II ranks, primarily competing in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) since the 1989–90 academic year. The Gorillas previously competed in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC) of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1976–77 to 1988–89; in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) from 1972–73 to 1975–76; in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) from 1968–69 to 1971–72; in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIC) from 1923–24 to 1967–68; and in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) from 1902–03 to 1922–23.

Pittsburg State competes in 12 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, softball, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball. Club sports include men's baseball.


The Pitt State football program began in 1908 under head coach Albert McLeland. Since that time, the program has produced the most wins in NCAA Division II history. It has been national champions on four occasions; 1957,1961,1991 and 2011. Pittsburg State defeated Wayne State University, MI, 35–21 to claim its most recent national championship in 2011. During the 2004 season the Gorillas finished 14–1, losing 31–36 to Valdosta State University in the NCAA Division II National Football Championship. Pittsburg State has won, outright or shared, a total of 27 conference championships during the 96-year history of its intercollegiate program, including 13 conference titles in the last 19 seasons under Coach Chuck Broyles PSU reached the Division II National Championship game in 2004, 1995, and 1992. Its games with fellow MIAA Division II powerhouse Northwest Missouri State University are played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Fall Classic at Arrowhead. 26,695 attended the 2002 game—the most of any Division II game.[13]

The Gorillas

PSU is the only university in the United States to feature a gorilla as a mascot. The concept of the mascot was conceived in 1920, and officially adopted on January 15, 1925.[14] Current mascot, Gus, was designed in 1985 by L. Michael Hailey.[15]

Apple Day

Back in 1907, a small delegation from the Pittsburg area lobbied the state legislature to give the newly established university an appropriation that would pay for the construction of the school's first building. But one of the delegate members, Pittsburg mayor Clarence Price, apparently broke the rules by not exiting the floor before the session began (in some versions of the story, it was the namesake of Russ Hall, R. S. Russ, who performed the gaffe). The legislators good-naturedly fined the Pittsburg delegation a barrel of apples before awarding them the appropriation. And when the men returned to Pittsburg, the students were so amused by the story that they decided university administrators and faculty who had missed work and class in order to lobby in Topeka should have to pay the same fine. In those days, students were penalized for truancy. Because members of the faculty left their classrooms in order to attend the legislative session in Topeka, the students reasoned that faculty members should be penalized for their absence.[16]

Twelve months later, on March 6, 1908, classes were dismissed for the entire day in honor of the first Apple Day (officially titled Commemoration Day). During an afternoon program in the assembly room of the Central School building, the students once again fined the faculty a barrel of apples. Thus began the unique, annual, tradition at Pittsburg State of the teachers bringing apples for their students.[16]

Notable people

  • Fira Basuki, Indonesian novelist[17][18]
  • John Brown, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills
  • Gary Busey, film actor (attended, did not graduate)
  • Terry Calloway, former Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives
  • Willie Fritz, current head football coach at Tulane University
  • Eldon Danenhauer, Offensive tackle for the Denver Broncos
  • Ralph Earhart, former NFL halfback, Green Bay Packers
  • Dennis Franchione, former head football coach of Texas A&M University (and former coach of Pittsburg State)
  • Eugene Maxwell Frank, Bishop of the United Methodist Church
  • Kendall Gammon, former NFL longsnapper, Kansas City Chiefs and current Chiefs radio analyst (currently employed by Pittsburg State)
  • Don Gutteridge, Major League Baseball player and manager (Chicago White Sox)
  • Jay W. Hood, Major General U.S. Army, Commander 1st U.S. Army East, Ft. Meade, Maryland, former commanding general JTF Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
  • David P. Hurford, psychologist and researcher in dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • John E. Jacobs, Interim president of Emporia State in 1953; Director of Special Education for the Kansas State Department of Education from 1953–1957
  • Jennifer Knapp, Grammy-nominated Christian music artist; sold over 1 million albums
  • Inez Y. Kaiser, the first African-American woman to run a public relations company with national clients[19]
  • Jake LaTurner, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas's 2nd district
  • Sherm Lollar, Major League Baseball player
  • Aaron McConnell, American football player
  • Ronald Moore, former NFL running back (Arizona Cardinals), 1992 Harlon Hill Trophy winner
  • Brian Moorman, NFL punter, Buffalo Bills
  • Sam Pittman, head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks
  • Jim Press, Chrysler, vice chairman and president
  • H. Lee Scott, former Wal-Mart president and CEO
  • Steven A. Scott, ninth president of Pittsburg State University
  • Michael Shonrock, former president of Emporia State University
  • Joe Skubitz, U. S. representative
  • Sally Stonecipher, first female United States Army helicopter pilot
  • James Tate, writer who won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
  • Duane Thiessen, lieutenant general, United States Marine Corps
  • Lucinda Todd, civil rights activist and plaintiff, Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Jackie Vietti, President of Butler Community College for 17 years; served as interim president of Emporia State University in 2015
  • Steve Weddle, American novelist
  • Pat Woodrum, Executive director of Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden; former executive director of the Tulsa City-County Library System
  • Darryl Wren, former NFL defensive back
  • Douglas Youvan, biophysicist
  • David Kan, South African businessman


  1. "A Brief History of Pittsburg State University" (PDF). Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  2. As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  3. "College Portrait of Pittsburg State in 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (English) on May 24, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  4. "Board of Regents Announces 2022 Fall Enrollment" (PDF). September 29, 2022. Retrieved October 6, 2022.
  5. Pittsburg State University Brand Identity Standards Manual (PDF). Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  6. History page from 2009–11 catalog
  7. "Previous PSU Presidents". Pittsburg State University. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014.
  8. "Campus Map". Pittsburg State University.
  9. "Pittsburg State University, Kansas". usjournal.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
  10. "Off-campus programs".
  11. "Off-Campus Programs". Graduate and Continuing Studies. Pittsburg State University. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  12. "Kansas Polymer Research Center, Pittsburg Kansas – Pittsburg State University". kansaspolymer.com.
  13. "The Fall Classic at Arrowhead III". cstv.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015.
  14. "Iconic mascot began as a way to build 'pep' on campus". Pittsburg State University.
  15. "Pittsburg State Gorillas". Pittsburg State University.
  16. "Apple Day - Pittsburg State University". Pittstate.edu. February 21, 1903. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  17. "[ACAD] Book – Jendela-Jendela". ohiou.edu.
  18. Fira Basuki (January 1, 2006). The Windows. Grasindo. p. 178. ISBN 978-979-759-452-7.
  19. Schmitt, Will (August 4, 2016). "Inez Y. Kaiser, first black woman to own a national PR firm, dies at 98". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
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