University Extension began in England about the year 1880 and in the United States six or seven years thereafter. Its purpose is to carry instruction to the people who on account of circumstances are denied the privileges of attending a university. While it assumes to give the same instruction to non-resident as to resident students, it can never be made the same in character or quality. For a number of years the professors of the University of Kansas and of other educational institutions of the state had been accustomed to give lectures to the public on scientific subjects, but it was not until 1891 that the work was organized at the University of Kansas. It was placed in the hands of a committee of which Prof. F. W. Blackmar was chairman. An aggressive campaign was inaugurated to organize extension societies in the towns of Kansas and to give systematic courses of lectures and instruction. These lectures were on education, literature, science, political economy, history and art.
In the year 1890-91 over one hundred such lectures were given by the chancellor and instructors of the university to forward the cause of education. In 1891-92 this number was augmented. It was only necessary to systematize the work and supplement it with collateral readings to complete the extension idea. Prof. Lucian I. Blake of the University of Kansas was engaged to deliver a course of ten lectures on electricity and magnetism at Topeka. Soon after this, a local association was organized in Kansas City and Prof. F. W. Blackmar was chosen to give a course of lectures on economic problems. In other towns courses were given by Prof. C. D. Dunlap in English literature of the 19th century by Prof. H. S. Carruth in German literature; by Prof. E. H. S. Bailey in "The Chemistry of Every-day Life;" by Prof. E. Miller in astronomy, and by Prof. Williston in geology.
The work was not fully organized until 1909 when the university extension division was organized as a separate division of the university, with Prof. Richard R. Price as director. The extension division is now in four departmentsthe lecture-study department, the correspondence-study department, the department of general information and welfare, the department of debating and public discussion. The extension lecture system is directed by the lecture study department. All non-residents' work of the university is conducted through the university extension division, under one of its four departments. There are two classes of people to whom the lecture courses appeal. The first is composed of people who have neither time nor inclination to pursue a systematic course of study, but who wish to attend the lectures to receive inspiration for profitable reading and some knowledge of the latest advances in certain branches of study; the second class of people to obtain profit from the extension work is composed of persons of studious inclination who not only listen to the lectures but also do collateral reading and take the final examination for university credit. This second class includes students preparing for college and professional schools, college students who are unable to pursue continuous resident study, grammar and high school teachers who cannot avail themselves of resident instruction, professional and business men who wish to supplement their training, men too old to go to school, but find a need for more knowledge in their own professions, and club women who wish to pursue a systematic line of study.
In 1911 some 85 or 90 university courses were offered through correspondence. It is possible through this means to obtain credit for as much as ten semester hours of college work each year. In 1911 there were 184 students enrolled in the correspondence study department. The many people who desire and need intellectual stimulus, but cannot go to the university, are glad the university can come to them.Pages 830-831 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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