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About Emporia State University

Preparing you for lifelong learning, rewarding careers, and adaptive leadership

Since 1863, Emporia State University has prepared teachers via nationally acclaimed teacher education programs. For the last 40 years, outstanding and highly accredited ESU programs in business, library and information management, and liberal arts and sciences have also groomed students to take their place in a competitive and increasingly global society. As an early adopter and innovator, we have over 22 years of experience in online learning and over 30 years of experience in distance learning.


Emporia State has four core values: excellence, respect, responsibility, and service.

  • With excellence, the university values intellectual challenges, problem solving, and creative and critical thinking.
  • With respect, the university values integrity, collaboration, diversity, freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of expression.
  • With responsibility, the university values accountability and stewardship of the institution, the environment, human resources, and personal well-being.
  • With service, the university values engagement in leadership and community that positively impacts our global society.


Emporia State University was established in 1863 as the state’s first school for training teachers. Although founded in 1863, the first term did not begin until February 15, 1865.

Lyman Kellogg, the president of Kansas State Normal School (ESU’s original name) and its only teacher at the time, taught 18 students on the second floor of the district schoolhouse. On June 28, 1867, Kellogg presented diplomas to the school’s first graduating class, which consisted of two women: Mary Jane Watson, a Civil War heroine, and Ellen Plumb, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Preston Plumb. Kellogg saw to it that KSN got off to an auspicious start before becoming a successful lawyer, honored judge, and attorney general of Kansas.

For 19 years after its inception, KSN struggled with drought, renegade buffalo hunters, as well as depression, doubt, jealousy of location, and extreme lack of appropriations. Despite all, KSN became the largest school in the state and the largest normal school in the country by 1889.

The school was first accredited in 1898, the same year it graduated its first black students. During that year, the Spanish American War interrupted the course of the school year. More than 35% of the first three Kansas regiments were school teachers, many of them from KSN.

During Thomas Butcher’s tenure as KSN president, the university was granted authority to confer master’s degrees. It also became one of the first normal schools recognized and accredited by the North Central Association.

By 1996, the university was enjoying a national reputation as a leader in teacher education and student retention and as an innovative marketer through its regional distance program in the School of Library and Information Management.

The name of the university has changed four times in response to its growth and the increased advantages it provides to students and Kansas citizens. Founded as Kansas State Normal School, the institution later became Kansas State Teachers College (1923), Emporia Kansas State College (1974), and finally, Emporia State University (1977).

Since its beginnings in a one-room schoolhouse, ESU has developed into a large multimodal university with 29 graduate programs, many of which can be completed entirely online. ESU has positively impacted the lives of students from all over the globe. Our alumni base of more than 38,000 graduates resides in all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries.

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