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Southern Nazarene University - Character Culture Christ

Bresee College

"Graduates must finish three years of Latin, two years of Greek, or German, one year of History, two years of English, and two years of Mathematics before graduation. Students must finish one year of Latin before taking up Greek."

How would you like a class schedule like this? Some of us would never graduate! But this was what students studying in Kansas Holiness College in 1906 had to accomplish. Tuition costs at that time lay at $10.50 for the fall term (14 weeks), $9.00 for the winter term (12 weeks), and $6.00 for the spring term (8 weeks), which amounts to $0.75 per week. Piano or Organ lessons cost $0.50 per lesson, Vocal Music the incredible price of $0.25 per lesson.

Bresee College was started in October 1905 as Kansas Holiness Bible College in Hutchinson, Kansas, by Mrs. Mattie Hoke. She became the first president of the college and stayed so for at least ten years. The institution was first opened as a Bible school. Later, the four year academy was added, then the department of Fine Arts and finally the Junior College.

Holiness Church and School
Holiness Church and School

The first building was a private dwelling house, but by 1935 the college had moved to a modern brick structure situated in a choice location in the city of Hutchinson.

Bresee College Administration Building
Girls Dormitory

By 1914/15 there was a school building of 50 rooms, that accomodated 74 students. Of 13 faculty members there were only 5 male ones.

A look into the catalogue of 1914/15 gives interesting insights into college life at that time and regulations that would probably lead a lot of us today to the decision rather not to study at all.

The general goal of the college could be summarized in these words: "Send us your young people (...) and instead of sending them back to you unbelievers, baseball fans, foot ball brutes, and useless dudes, we will do our best to send them back with a thorough education; a good experience of salvation; manly men and womanly women, cultivated, educated, saved and sanctified; humble, sweet and useful; (...)"

What is now nicely called "Student Conduct", went under the very fitting name "discipline" 80 years ago. These regulations included no visitors - and no phone calls, neither in nor out - unless an emergency arises, strict study rules ("Students are expected to give their time wholly to their studies"), absolute punctuality, cleanliness (there was a daily inspection, whether beds were made, etc.), never leaving the grounds without permission, and no lunching between meals. There was a clear understanding in case the rules were not followed: "Anyone not willing to confirm to them is not wanted."

The university dress code plainly said: "Worldly dress is not allowed".

The passing grade at that time was 75 per cent. Anyone over 95 per cent was excused from the final exams.

According to its catalogue, Kansas Holiness College was one of the most inexpensive colleges around. A full year in college course cost $35.00 for tuition, the price for room and board was $92.50.

The curriculum included various courses about the Bible, English, History, Latin (6 courses), Greek, German, Spanish, and French, Mathematics, and a few Science classes.

The annual of Bresee College, "The Comet", in the year of 1935 shows the development of the college in numbers, capacity, student life, etc.

The yearbook started with a brief history of the college. Then it continued with pictures of all the staff and the student body, which, in comparison to 1915, seemed not to have grown very much.

A considerable difference could be found in student life on campus. In 1915 there were practically no groups, clubs, or anything of the sort. A Literary Society is mentioned, an orchestra, and a band. In 1935 you could join two Literary Societies, the Christian Workers Association, various drama and entertainment clubs, and several music groups. There existed a Young Mens Athletic Association, which offered Basketball, Tennis, and Track.

But not only in this area did student life apparently change. The whole annual was full of snapshots, jokes, and other kind of humor. The last four pages were completely filled with advertisement. Obviously, the sincerity and strictness that could be observed in 1915 had lost - or improved - considerably.

In 1940 Bresee College fell into difficult times and merged with Bethany-Peniel College in Bethany, Oklahoma, being the fifth and last college that merged here to eventually form Southern Nazarene University.

Dorli Gschwandtner

Our Nazarene Heritage
Founded in 1899, Southern Nazarene University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university - a service of the Church of the Nazarene. Located on a 40-acre campus just west of Oklahoma City, SNU grew out of several small colleges committed to educating people for lives of service to God, leadership, and reconciliation toward their neighbors and within the global community. More than 32,000 alumni work and serve throughout the United States and the world. Read About Our Heritage

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