PERU, Neb. — Nebraska’s first college is celebrating its 150th birthday.
Peru State College is kicking off its string of campus events with an “All College Reunion” this weekend, the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2t9Tqef ) reported. Returning alumni will represent classes as far back as the 1940s.
The university, originally named the Nebraska State Normal School, was established by the Legislature in 1867, just three months after the state was admitted into the Union. The University of Nebraska in Lincoln was founded two years later.
“We’ve had so many alumni who have contacted us and asked about activities and ways to come back to campus,” said Deborah Solie, director of alumni relations for the Peru State College Foundation. “They’re eager to learn about where Peru’s been since they left here, and where it’s going.”
Total enrollment for the past school year was more than 2,600.
Peru State history professor Sara Crook said Peru State struggled in the 1990s when it faced the possibility of closing or moving to Nebraska City. But she said the difficult time helped unite southeast Nebraska in support of the college.
“There are opportunities that come out of bad situations,” Crook said.
Since then, state funding and fundraising by the foundation have helped remodel historic buildings and build a new entrance.
“You know what, it’s the Cinderella campus,” Crook said. “It’s the most beautiful campus in Nebraska, but nobody had given it any dress-up clothes.”
Peru State President Dan Hanson said the school’s strategic planning builds upon strong personal relationships created on campus.
“Our intent is to transform students by those personal connections they make with faculty and staff,” he said. “That is the heart of our education. That’s the enduring tradition at Peru State College.”
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com