60th Anniversary celebration this weekend

 

The first graduation for Evangel University (then College) was held in the spring of 1959 — 32 of the 37 graduates were present for this photo. // (The Betty Chase Archives at Evangel University)

 

SPRINGFIELD, MO — Members of the very first graduating class from Evangel University have traveled from as far as California to celebrate their 60th Anniversary this weekend during Evangel’s annual Homecoming festivities.

Ten of the 37 members of the Class of 1959 are back on campus celebrating with more than 100 other early students, faculty and staff at Evangel — those who studied and worked there between 1955 and 1965 and are affectionately known as “The Pioneers.”

Evangel’s Homecoming activities run through Saturday evening, Oct. 5, with a banquet at the Bass Pro White River Room.

The speaker will be retired Admiral Vernon Clark, who was serving as Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S. Navy on 9/11.

Clark spent several years growing up in Springfield, and graduated from Evangel in 1967.

 

PHOTO OP — MEET THE PIONEERS

On Friday morning, the Pioneer group will gather at 11 a.m. for a special Trees of Honor ceremony in the Riggs Hall Administration Building.

They will celebrate the service of a group of pioneer women, the “Dorm Mothers” during those first 10 years.

The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by those early alumni, and it took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. Their idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.

 

The first graduation for Evangel University (then College) was held in the spring of 1959, at Central Assembly on Boonville Ave. // (The Betty Chase Archives at Evangel University)

Who are The Pioneers?

Evangel University’s unique setting is traced back to World War II, when the land was used as O’Reilly General Hospital. In 1954, parts of the land were awarded to local organizations. The Assemblies of God received a major portion of this land to build its new liberal arts college.

Ninety-three students comprised the first freshman class in 1955. Those “pioneer” students in the first 10 years all lived and studied in the former hospital barracks. Evangel’s first permanent building in 1963 was the Klaude Kendrick Library, named for the school’s first president.

President J. Robert Ashcroft, president of Evangel from 1958 to 1974, presents a diploma at the first graduation for Evangel University (then College). The ceremony was held in the spring of 1959 at Central Assembly on Boonville Ave. // (The Betty Chase Archives at Evangel University)

 

Today, the Evangel campus covers approximately 100 acres of land, roughly half the area that O’Reilly Hospital once covered. At one time, 86 barracks covered our portion of the land.

Now, only the original boiler house remains, and thanks to men and women like these pioneers, the current students have excellent, modern academic and performance facilities in which to build for their futures.

Dr. Klaud Kendrick, who served as the first president of Evangel (then College) from 1955 to 1958, and President J. Robert Ashcroft, who served from 1958 to 1974, at the first graduation. The ceremony was held in the spring of 1959 at Central Assembly on Boonville Ave. // (The Betty Chase Archives at Evangel University)

 

Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel serves more than 2,100 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.

The three Springfield-based schools of the Assemblies of God — Central Bible College, AG Theological Seminary and Evangel University — consolidated in 2013.

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