What’s In A Name — Pittsburg State University


PITTSBURG, Ks. — There are names on the side of every building on every college campus in the country. But how many of the students, faculty or staff that go inside them each day actually know who they’re named after, or what they did to deserve that honor.

It’s one of the most iconic buildings in Southeast Kansas. It’s was the first on Pitt State campus. But do you know how it got it’s name?

Steven Cox, Curator, Special Collections & University Archives, said, “The first leader of this University was a principal and that was Russell Russ, and the building was built during the 11 years he was here, and it was just the University building, it was the University at the time, but when he left in 1911, the faculty, the following year, decided to name the building after him.”

You wouldn’t know by looking at it now, but the building was the scene of a major fire just a few years after it was built.

Rex Tanner was a student who lost his life while helping Pittsburg fire fighters trying to save the building, which is how Tanner Hall got it’s name. Odella Nation, niece of temperance movement leader Carrie Nation played an important role in that tragedy as well.

“When Russ Hall caught fire in 1914, she was the one who saved the library, organizing a student chain to hand the books out the window as Russ Hall was really being engulfed in flames.”

Ebenezer Porter never taught or took classes here, yet his name is the university’s first library.

“But he was the state senator for this area who helped get the funding to get this university started.”

The current library is named after the university’s 3rd president Leonard Axe. Then there’s a building named after a man who lived hundreds of miles away, school’s and school buildings across the country are named after him.

“We have a Horace Mann building on campus named after a famous east coast educator who’s supposedly the father of American public education from the 18 hundreds, I’ve heard people refer to it as Horse Man, they just don’t realize that it was somebody’s name.”

If you’d like to know about all the men who lead the university since it’s inception, follow the link below.


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