Celebrating Our 140th Anniversary Through Pictures

In our continued celebration of Park University’s 140th anniversary, we are taking a look back at its rich history, through a collection of photos. Although it is no longer standing, this building was the original home of Park College. Located on the banks of the Missouri River, just north of the train tracks, “Number One” was the home of Park’s first class of 17 students. To share the story of its beginnings, here is an excerpt from A Chronicle of Memories: Park College – 1875-1990.


Old photo of Old Number One, a stone multi-level building.

Originally built in 1839 as the Missouri Valley Hotel, this building served as the first home of Park College.

Once a rough, hilly spot of rocks and clay and woods, the campus has been transformed into beautiful terraces lined with shrubs and flowers. Buildings have risen, faithfully served their time, and given way to newer and finer structures as necessity has demanded and the means permitted. Practically all has been modified by the changing time except what is familiarly knows as “the old Park Spirit” – the spirit of endeavor, of progress, and of success, which still pervades the college atmosphere and inspires all to greater achievement.

In 1839, Colonel George S. Park arrived at a small hamlet on the Missouri River called English Landing (now Parkville) where he built a stone hotel which he named the Missouri Valley Hotel. This pioneer entrepreneur had a dream of founding a college. At a Presbyterian meeting he met another man with the same dream. As a result, in 1875 the old hotel building was given by Colonel Park to house the nucleus of seventeen students brought by Dr. John A. McAfee from Highland College in Kansas to found Park College. It was called “Number One” or just “The College” and rightly so because it was the first and only building of the fledgling college and because it contained everything pertaining to the institution (except, of course, the grounds and buildings needed for farming, which were leased at the beginning). It was located just west of the railroad depot which you now know as the City Hall. The townspeople were not too happy when the students built a fence around it to keep them from cutting across the yard on their way to the depot.

Parts of this hotel which had once flourished during the Civil War period had fallen into disrepair from abuse by soldiers and border ruffians, and by being used as a saloon and even as a stable for their horses by the renegade James brothers, Jesse and Frank. Dr. and Mrs. McAfee, their five children and the seventeen students all pitched in to clean up the mess and make the building livable. Gradually as time went on and much work was done, the lower floor contained the printing office, dining room, kitchen, laundry, bakery, clothes and store rooms; the second floor a chapel, six recitation rooms, two literary society halls, library, President’s office, parlor, and matron’s and steward’s rooms. The third floor was a sort of conservatory containing eighteen rooms (which by 1886 housed sixty-eight young ladies), a reading and a music room. It was called the “Sugar Box,” presumably because of the sweet young ladies who resided there. On the top was the ten-room “Pepper Box,” so named because of its many windows. Should you want to catch a steamer or row a boat on the Missouri River you would just cross the railroad tracks immediately south of Old Number One, walk a few yards, and there you’d be.


This is just one of the many great stories from Park’s 140 years of tradition. To celebrate that history, Fides et Labor –140 Years of Pioneering Education: The Story of Park University (working title), is currently in production and is scheduled to be available in September. The 160-page publication will be filled with stories and photos covering the University’s history. Pre-orders for the book are currently being filled at the discounted price of $39.95 through Aug. 1; the price goes to $44.95 after that date and supply will be limited. For more information or to order your book, visit www.park.edu/historybook.

Living our Core Values – Global Citizenship

As we hit the midpoint of the Spring 1 term, Roger Dusing continues our series on Living Our Core Values with a look at GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY, CIVILITY and RESPECT and EXCELLENCE.


We celebrate GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP through our connected learning and working environment, as well as community stewardship

Park University has a rich heritage of connecting learning and working. Our original students worked in lieu of paying tuition. They cooked the food, washed the clothes, and built the buildings; all while earning their academic degrees. There is a tradition of service and stewardship.

One of the great things about working for Park today is that we are surrounded by our customers every day. Many employees and their families are also customers. These connections allow us to provide “learning” to our students while we are also learners ourselves. We learn more about academic disciplines through research – we learn more about teaching, customer service, and managing through practice and training. We are embraced by an environment steeped in learning, working, and service. We are citizens of Park University, and of the global universe that surrounds us.

Citizenship, in all forms, is a blessing. It means that you are entitled to the benefits and protections of being part of an organization that shares common values and beliefs. Citizens are connected through friendships and work relationships, and through their common objectives. Citizens can expect to be treated as partners, compatriots, and colleagues.

However, citizenship comes with price. That price is the responsibility (or accountability) to act as a citizen – to dedicate your efforts for the greater good – to put the needs of the organization above your personal needs – to express your opinions constructively – to give as much as you receive.

As citizens of Park University, we must also recognize that what we have to give is also needed by others outside of our University. We are also obligated, as both individuals and as a whole, to be citizens of the world, and to give back and serve the communities around us.

I searched for quotes about citizenship and the some of my favorites are below, but best one came from a first-grade reading/social studies lesson:


What is a good citizen? A good citizen is someone who respects others and their property. He/she is helpful and considerate, willing to put others first. He/she listens to the views of others and thinks about what they have to say. He/she helps people who are not in a position to help themselves. He/she respects the environment and does not damage it any way. He/she works hard. He/she is well mannered and pleasant. He/she is always willing to learn.


As citizens of Park University, what better model could we have as global citizens, than to act like First Graders?


Some additional quotes on Citizenship

The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.

Ann Landers

Citizenship is a sense of belonging to a community for which one bears a responsibility.

Walter Berns

Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it.

Martha Gellhorn

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.

Margaret Mead

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Marcus Aurelius

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

John F. Kennedy

Celebrating Our 140th Anniversary Through Pictures

At Park University, we are excited to celebrate our 140th anniversary over the next several months. As a large part of that celebration, we will be looking back at many of the historic moments that have shaped Park’s growth from our founding in 1875 to today, across several venues. In addition to a dedicated website, we will be sharing photos on social media as well. Every Monday, the Fishburn Archives at Park University will share a quick glance into the past, from our collection of photos and documents. And on the Park University Facebook page, we will be updating our cover photos to highlight important figures and events throughout our timeline,

Our first cover photo features three men, without whom Park would not exist today. To many longtime stakeholders and alumni of Park, the first two men need no introduction – founder of Park College and its home of Parkville, Mo., Col. George S Park; and our first president, John A. McAfee. The third figure, while not nearly as well-known as Park and McAfee, is Rev. Elisha B. Sherwood.

Like Col. Park, Rev. Sherwood was a native of Vermont, although they came from opposite ends of the state – Park was born in Grafton; Sherwood in Fairfield. And like Dr. McAfee, Rev. Sherwood was a dedicated minister of the Presbyterian Church. It was Sherwood’s friendship with each man separately that allowed him to make an introduction in mid-March 1875, and on March 29, McAfee, Park and Sherwood drafted plans and signed an agreement to establish the “Park College for Training Christian Workers.” The first class of students arrived in Parkville on April 13, 1875.

A mural on the first floor of Mackay Hall depicts Col. Park as “A Man of Vision,” and Dr. McAfee as “A Man of Action,” but without the assistance of Rev. Sherwood, the vision that is Park would not stand where it does today.

Facebook Cover Photo With Headshots of three founders on a gray background.

Col. George S. Park (l) and Dr. John McAfee, each with the desire to start a college, were introduced by Rev. Elisha B. Sherwood (r), laying the foundations for Park University. This photo is the first in a series of Facebook cover photos to celebrate important figures and events throughout Park’s history during our celebration of our 140th anniversary.

Living our Core Values – Excellence

The beginning of the Spring term is a perfect time for the third entry in our continuing series on Living Our Core Values. Guest author Roger Dusing takes a look at how we can bring EXCELLENCE into our daily life.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY and CIVILITY and RESPECT.


We seek EXCELLENCE in all we do, with passionate learning as our highest priority.

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman published In Search of Excellence. This groundbreaking book described eight themes that the authors argued were responsible for the success of the companies they studied. This best-selling book was followed by A Passion for Excellence by Peters and Austin in 1985, Jim Collins’ books Good to Great in 2001 and Great by Choice in 2011, and many more. What these books have in common is research into organizations that have made an intentional decision to focus on excellence.

Park University values that intentional focus on excellence. We don’t just want to be a “good” university that is an “okay” place to work where students get an “adequate” education. That is not what we are all about. Park University wants to be a phenomenal organization, that is a best-in-class place to work, and where students get an outstanding education.

To achieve this ideal, we will have to work very hard. Park will need to embrace change – to challenge every assumption – to push ourselves, and each other, to be the best that we can be. Excellence is never an accident. Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Tom Peters said “every organization is perfectly organized to achieve the results they are currently achieving.” What both of these men are saying is if you want to be better, you must change something – and maybe everything.

We need to create an environment where we constantly scrutinize our work – not just our effort but our results – and if they are not “excellent” then change something. Don’t form a committee to study it. Don’t hide in a corner and hope nobody notices. Don’t shout from the back of the room “somebody needs to do something about this!” Instead, step up and say, “here is my idea and here is how I want to help make that idea a reality.”

At the heart of this search for excellence is passionate learning. While we must strive to be efficient and fiscally responsible, we cannot lose sight of our mission to provide an outstanding education to our students. We want them to have a passion for learning and the opportunity to fulfill that passion. But, it is not just our students who love to learn, it is also our employees. Our environment should push us all to never stop learning. To continually strive for new knowledge and new ways to apply that knowledge. The adage is “when you stop growing you start dying.” We want everyone to continue to grow and use that new knowledge to drive excellence.

Excellence comes from a mix of passion and hard work. It is time for each of us – every single employee – to pick up a portion of Park University, put it on our backs, and take the responsibility to make that part of the University excellent. Make a vow to yourself, and everyone one you work with, to never go home at the end of day without being able to say proudly – I did my best today – I was excellent. If we all do that, we cannot imagine how great we can be.

Living our Core Values – Civility and Respect

Continuing our monthly series on living our core values, guest author Roger Dusing shares his thoughts on bringing CIVILITY and RESPECT into our daily lives.

Visit our archives to read the first post in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY.


We treat all with CIVILITY and RESPECT while being open and honest in our communication.

When he was a young man, George Washington wrote out 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. This was likely an exercise in penmanship and he was transcribing a list first written by Jesuits in 1595. Click here to read the full list. It is remarkable that over 400 years later, although the language has changed, civility and respect have not. Some rules are basic: don’t chew with your mouth open; if you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, do it quietly; and kill no vermin, fleas, lice, etc. in the presence of others. Who doesn’t try to exemplify those ideals every day?

Park University’s core values say; “We treat all with CIVILITY and RESPECT while being open and honest in our communication.” President Washington might have said; Treat everyone with respect (1); Do not embarrass others (3); When you speak, be concise (35); Do not argue with your superior, submit your ideas with humility (40); When a person tries their best and fails, do not criticize them (44); When you give advice or criticism, do so in private and with gentleness (45); Actions speak louder than words (48); Don’t believe everything that you hear (50); Allow reason to govern your actions (58); and, Do not give unasked-for advice (68). My favorites include; Don’t start what you can’t finish, keep your promises (82); Don’t talk behind people’s backs (89); and, Lead by example (59).

We can learn a lot from these 16th century Jesuits, and from George Washington, who strove to live by these rules. We are part of an organization that values discourse and creative thinking. We encourage challenges to the status quo. We expect to be held accountable and to be challenged for inappropriate behavior. However, all of those things must originate from an attitude of civility and respect. We must learn to listen first for understanding, and only when we understand the other person’s perspective offer our own thoughts. We must talk about ideas, not about the people who offer them. We must give deference to our decision makers, and once a decision is made, do our best to implement it, rather than chaff against it. We must show our respect for others by being on time, dressing appropriately, and being courteous. Civility and respect are incompatible with shouting, cursing, berating, belittling, harassing, or ignoring.

One last thought; civility and respect don’t flow from a position that others must go first. You can’t say I won’t be civil if I don’t think you are being civil. Washington’s list contains 110 things I must do to act in a civil and respectful fashion. This is a list of small sacrifices that I can make, for the good of the organization. Fast forward from 1595 to 1987 when Michael Jackson sang “I’m starting with the man in the mirror / I’m asking him to change his ways.” That is the path to civility and respect. Let’s all walk that path – together.

I hope you’ll continue with me on this road to living Park University’s Core Values when next month I’ll address EXCELLENCE.

Pirate Profile Series – Kay Boehr

The second installment of our Pirate Profile Series features Kay Boehr, associate professor of interior design and coordinator for the Interior Design program at Park University. A registered architect, she is also part of two professional organizations the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the Interior Design Coalition (IDC). Kay discusses the uniqueness that makes Park’s Interior Design program stand out in the Kansas City area. She discusses her passion and dedication to the program and how the creative process of co-authoring a textbook can be enjoyable yet hard work. Kay was able to mix her knowledge and Kansas City metro design into the book to create a sense of completion and wholeness that round out the book and the Interior Design program. Many people have philosophies about life and Kay is no different. Her design philosophy is quite simple, “design is design is design.” Her philosophy encompasses what it takes to become a good designer and leaves nothing short of creating professionals to take on the design world that exists all around us.

Living our Core Values – Accountability

As Park University nears its 140th anniversary, President David Fowler has championed a renewed commitment to our core values, and as part of that continued effort, we have invited Roger Dusing, associate vice president and chief Human Resources officer, to join us as a contributing author to the Pirate Insider. This monthly series will highlight each of the core values, sharing examples of how they are applicable to daily life.

Our first installment is on Accountability — We expect accountability for our actions at all levels, to each other and to Park University.


I believe that the term ACCOUNTABILITY has gotten a bad rap. In the media these days, about the only time you hear “accountability” is when something has gone wrong and there is a call to see who will be held accountable. In other words, who will be punished because they didn’t do their job right? Or, maybe they are the leader of an organization that was not successful and regardless of the circumstances, it was their fault. Accountability is shouted a bit like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland shouting “Off with their heads.” If being accountable means that if you fail you will be punished, why would anyone want to be accountable?

One of Park University’s core values is: We expect ACCOUNTABILITY for our actions at all levels, to each other and to Park University. We need to make sure that what we don’t mean, is that is if you don’t do your job, you’ll get punished. We need a richer definition of accountability.

According to Andy Wood and Bruce Winston, accountability is much more than that. They define Leader Accountability as:

  • the leader’s willing acceptance of the responsibilities inherent in the leadership position to serve the well-being of the organization;
  • the implicit or explicit expectation that he/she will be publicly linked to his/her actions, words, or reactions; and
  • the expectation that the leader may be called on to explain his or her beliefs, decisions, commitments, or actions to constituents.

I like this definition. It has enough context to help us really understand accountability. First, while you can assign a task, you can’t assign accountability – it has to be willingly accepted. However, if you accept a leadership role, you must understand that accepting the role, means accepting the accountability that comes with it. Secondly, you can’t hide from accountability. You must expect that you will be publicly linked to what you do and say. Accountability is visible. Finally, your constituents; which may be your boss, your peers, your subordinates, or your customers; have the right to ask you to explain why you did what you did.

You’ll note that there is no reference in this definition to punishment. What there is, is this: if you don’t do what you committed to do, you should expect that someone will notice, and they have the right (in fact the obligation) to ask you about that, and you have an obligation to explain. For some, that will be uncomfortable enough that it may feel like punishment. In other circumstances, The University might decide that there needs to be disciplinary action as a result of whatever the behavior was, but that action is, in itself, is not all that accountability it about.

At Park, we strive for accountability, not to avoid punishment, but because organizations whose members behave in an accountable fashion work better. Those organizations are open and honest. People are upfront with issues and concerns. They set and achieve realistic goals. They challenge each other do more, and to always, ALWAYS, do what’s best for the University, not for themselves.

Now, the next challenge is the manner in which we hold each other accountable, and that is rooted in our next core value – CIVILITY and RESPECT.