Interactive Timeline

Birth of Victor Cicero Kays

Victor Cicero Kays is born in Magnolia, Illinois, to John Austin Kays (1851-1906), a farmer, and Mary Alice Hartenbower Kays (1859-1933). V.C. Kays grew up on the family farm and attended a one-room grammar school.
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First District Agricultural School Founded

The First District Agricultural School’s is founded on April 1, 1909, when Arkansas Gov. George W. Donaghey signs into law Act 100. He later appoints Hon. J. J. Bellamy, Dr. O.N. Hammett, W.L. Banks, J.B. Lewis, and Sen. C.E. Bush to serve on the Board of Trustees.
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Jonesboro, Arkansas, Location Selected

On March 28, 1910, trustees of the First District Agricultural School select Jonesboro, Arkansas as the site of First District Agricultural School over Paragould and Mountain Home due to “the advantages offered by the facilities and the surroundings.”
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V.C. Kays Hired

At the age of twenty-eight, Victor C. Kays is hired as the first principal of the State Agricultural School of Jonesboro and served as the school's head for thirty-three years. Kays’ pay for the first year on the job is $1600--considered modest for the standards of the time. The average teacher at the school earns $45-$50 per month ($540-$600 per year).
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School Opens

The first day of classes begins October 3, 1910, for 189 students at the First District Agricultural School "Aggie," temporarily located in the old Elks Lodge above the T.J. Ellis Jewelry Store at Main Street and Washington Avenue in Jonesboro.
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Arkansas State College Foundation

The Arkansas State College Foundation, which later becomes the Kays Foundation, is established through the vision and leadership of V.C. Kays and a group of dedicated citizens for the purpose of overseeing funds donated to buy livestock for the Animal Husbandry Department of the School. (Image: Dairy with cows, 1921)
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Kays Review

A committee appointed by the Arkansas legislature to review the agricultural school gives V.C. Kays a positive review, noting, “We find Professor Kays a most excellent gentleman, of indispensable value as the head of such a school. The only deplorable fact in regard to his service to the [S]tate is that he is paid a mere pittance for his services.” (Image: First baseball team, ca. 1910)
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Marriage

V.C. Kays marries Bertie Hale (January 1, 1892 - February 27, 1976) of Paragould, Arkansas. Bertie Hale had served as secretary to President Kays prior to their marriage.
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A Junior College

State Agricultural School of Jonesboro becomes a junior college soon after World War I begins in order to be eligible to acquire a unit of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) for campus. Despite offering junior college courses, the School continues to operate as a high school as well. (Image: 1920's National Guard drills.)
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Birth

V.C. Kays and his wife welcome a son, V.H. “Buddy” Kays, after Kays had been in office for ten years.
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The College

In 1925 the school becomes the “First District Agricultural and Mechanical College.” (Image: 1926-27 Aggie coeds from Goodloe Stuck)
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A Four-Year Program

A four-year degree program is initiated. Students are able obtain a B.A., B.S., or B.S.E.
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Fire!

Fire destroys the Administration Building, which houses the school’s records and most of its classroom space. Some records, kept in a cast-iron vault, are charred but readable. V.C. Kays announces that “the school will go on as though the fire had not happened.” Classes resume the next day in other campus buildings, including the dairy barn.
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R.E. Lee Wilson Hall Completed

R.E. Lee Wilson Hall, built to replace the former administration building, is completed on November 28, 1932 despite the challenges of The Great Depression.
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Arkansas State College

The First District Agricultural and Mechanical College becomes Arkansas State College through Act 222 of the Arkansas General Assembly. (Image: Front Campus, 1930)
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Kays House Built

V.C. Kays builds the Kays house, designed by architect A.N. McAninch in the Tudor style. The home is paid for with Kays’ personal money. He and his family live there during the last seven years of his presidency and the remainder of his life. Kays was the only ASU president to live in the house. Later presidents lived in a house purchased by the university.
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Kays Resigns

V.C. Kays resigns as President following nearly 33 years of service to the institution but remains on as a business manager with the title of President Emeritus. Horace E. Thompson, a graduate of the Class of 1925, succeeds Kays as president. (Image: V.C. Kays ca. 1955)
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Thompson Resigns

Horace Thompson resigns as president, and V.C. Kays takes his position temporarily until Dr. William J. Edens is appointed as Arkansas State’s third president in 1946. (Pictured: William Edens ca. 1950)
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Honorary Degree Awarded

On May 25, 1956 the Board of Trustees at Arkansas State College award V.C. Kays an honorary doctor of laws degree.
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Kays Hall Constructed

Kays Hall is constructed to house Arkansas State’s female students. The building is built on a site donated by the Arkansas State College Foundation and named in honor of the Kays family.
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Death

V.C. Kays dies and is buried at Jonesboro Memorial Cemetery.
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Arkansas State University

The Arkansas General Assembly votes to grant Arkansas State College university status, and the name is changed to Arkansas State University on July 1.
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Death

V.H. Kays dies. As well as serving the Arkansas State College Foundation for thirty-five years. V. H. Kays was a life member of the Arkansas State University Foundation. He was a member of the Jonesboro Rotary Club, Jonesboro Masonic Lodge No. 129 and was a member of the administrative board of the Salvation Army.
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Kays House Purchased by ASU

Arkansas State University purchases the Kays house and uses it as faculty housing until 2011. The University stops using the house due to the excessive maintenance required to renovate the house and make it handicapped-accessible.
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The Kays Foundation

The Board of the Arkansas State College Foundation votes to officially change the name of the organization to “The Kays Foundation” in recognition of the significant roles played by V.C. and V.H. Kays.
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Demolition Planned

ASU Interim Chancellor, Dan Howard, announces that site preparation and construction of four sorority houses will begin shortly on the site where the Kays house stands. This elicits protest from faculty who object to the destruction of the house. (Pictured: Dr. Clyde Milner, chairman of the Save the Kays House Committee, with Paula Miles, Asst. Director, Arkansas Heritage Sites)
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Demolition Put on Hold

In response to faculty opposition to the plan to demolish the Kays House, Chancellor Tim Hudson and ASU System President Dr. Charles Welch agree to suspend plans to demolish the Kays House for a year, to allow fundraisers time to demonstrate that there is enough support to save the House. (Dr. Hudson pictured.)
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National Register of Historic Places

V.C. Kays House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Kays House is the first property on the A-State campus to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Governor Mike Beebe Announces Donation

Gov. Mike Beebe, a 1968 graduate of Arkansas State University, announces that he will donate eight years of gubernatorial papers, video, photographs and memorabilia to the university.
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