Thomas W. Butcher

Summary Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives
Thomas W., Butcher, 1867-1947.
Thomas W. Butcher
2.0 Linear feet

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Biographical Note

Thomas Walter Butcher was born on July 3, 1867 in Macomb, Illinois. His parents were Boman Rilea Butcher and Adaline Vail. The family moved to Kansas when Butcher was still a child. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1894. After graduating from the University of Kansas, Butcher accepted the position of principal of Wellington High School from 1894 until 1897. After leaving Wellington High School he became the principal of Sumner County High School from 1897 until 1906. On July 3, 1900 Thomas W. Butcher married Mary W. Peck. They had three children, Thomas Peck Butcher, Walter Peck Butcher, and Mary Louise Butcher. Butcher sat on the Board of Regents for the University of Kansas from 1903 until 1907. In 1904 he earned his Master of Arts degree from Harvard University. After receiving his Master’s degree, Butcher accepted the position of president of Central State Normal School in Oklahoma from 1906 until 1908. In 1908 Butcher took a year to study abroad at the University of Berlin in Germany. After returning from Germany Butcher accepted a position as the Superintendent of Enid, Oklahoma schools from 1909 until 1913.

Thomas Walter Butcher was elected President of the Kansas State Normal School after Joseph H. Hill resigned in 1913. His 30 year tenure makes his presidency the longest in the history of the school. When Butcher accepted the presidency in 1913 the administration building needed renovation. In 1913 the State Legislature approved a $60,000 appropriation to remodel the building, however the building was deemed unsafe and condemned. In 1914 the beginning of a “work study” program was started. The new policy included hiring students for janitor services and other work in order to help deserving students attend the school. In 1915 teaching certification at Kansas State Normal School was streamlined. The Life Certificate, which was awarded after two years of college work, was limited to grade school, junior high school, and two-year high school teachers. That same year the legislature approved $175,000 for a new administrative building. The new administrative building, named Plumb Hall, was completed in 1917. The brick building is four stories high with two large columns at the entrance. It contained 90 classrooms, 3 restrooms, 2 check-rooms, and a space for an elevator. It also houses a 2,500 seat auditorium, named Albert Taylor Hall. During World War I courses were offered in radio and gasoline engines. Correspondence and extension courses were also offered to those involved in the war effort. In 1920 the students of the Kansas State Normal School began collecting funds and planning for a student union to honor the veterans. In 1922 the target goal of $250,000 had been raised and the Memorial Union Corporation was granted its charter. In 1923 by a legislative act the Kansas State Normal School officially became the Kansas State Teachers College. In 1932, the American Library Association granted full accreditation to the Library Science Department at the Kansas State Teachers College. The 75th anniversary of the school was held in 1938. Campus improvements that year included: a new turbine and generator for the power plant, the Student Union Coffee Shop was enlarged and redecorated, the new stadium was in its final stages of completion which included a new bell tower and scoreboard, and Wilson Park was undergoing renovations that included a stone wall, picnic tables, a stone shelter house and landscaping improvements. When World War II began the Emporia National Guard was mobilized and shipped out on January 6, 1941 and included 32 soldiers from Kansas State Teachers College. Also in 1941 the legislature approved $200,000 for a new library building and another $50,000 for furniture and fixtures, however, the library would be postponed due to World War II. That same year the Association of American Universities placed Kansas State Teachers College on its list of approved universities. In 1942 a basic military training program began and Kansas State Teachers College was designated at a radio training center. In 1943 500 Army Aviation Cadets moved onto campus in order to complete the education and training required of them by the military. On June 30, 1943 President Butcher retired.

President Butcher continued to serve as President Emeritus until his death. He died on July 14, 1947 and is buried in Maplewood Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Emporia, Kansas. Butcher Children’s School on the Emporia State University campus was named after him.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives

1200 Commercial St
Campus Box 4051
Emporia, KS, 66801
(620) 341-6431

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Presidents.

Personal Name(s)

  • Thomas W., Butcher, 1867-1947.

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