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History of the School of Applied Sciences & Technology

The School of Applied Sciences and Technology has evolved over the decades in continuing to offer its students access to the latest technology including specialized facilities, labs, farms, and other environments that create opportunities for hands-on experience. The roots of the School of AS&T can be traced back to Eastern Kentucky State College, supporting the college’s historic mission in training teachers for the classrooms of America. Courses of instruction included the fields of Agriculture, Home Economics, and Industrial Arts.

The School of Technology was formed in 1965 and continued to offer programs leading to teaching degrees as well as a newly implemented program leading to Associate Degrees in nursing.

The School of Technology became the College of Applied Arts and Technology in 1966 under the newly named Eastern Kentucky University. The college continued expansion under the supervision of Dean John Rowlett to include nine departments welcoming the additions of the Kentucky School of Crafts, the Kentucky Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Council, and the Traffic Safety Institute. The College of Applied Arts and Technology offered students abundant opportunities in fields ranging from pure art to the complex technology of electronics.  Keeping true to its pledge of providing modern technology and equipment for its students, the College of AA&T utilized the Burrier Building in 1969 to provide new facilities for the Departments of Home Economics and Nursing and the School of Law Enforcement. 

The College continued its mission of preparing students for technical occupations and teachers of technical subjects under new leadership in 1970 with Dr. William Sexton assuming the responsibility of supervising its departments. The College continued to grow and add new facilities under Dean Sexton. Agriculture offered its first class in the A.B. Carter Building in 1970 and an additional greenhouse in 1972 brought the total to three for horticulture majors. Industrial education and industrial technology were also able to expand their facilities at this time with the renovation of the Ault Building. The renovation resulted in two woodworking laboratories, a finishing room, laboratories for power mechanics and fluid power, and additional office space.

The College of Applied Arts and Technology had reorganized by 1974 to include the departments of Agriculture, Home Economics, Industrial Education and Technology, and Nursing. The College remained committed to contributing to the professional growth of individuals in their careers and to the elevation of technical disciplines through public service. The recently merged Department of Industrial Education and Technology moved into the renovated Fitzpatrick Building and advancements continued in Agriculture with the purchase of a new laboratory farm to be used by students for research purposes.  By 1975, more than 2,400 students were enrolled in the College of AA&T, with a 12 percent increase in enrollment occurring from 1974 to 1975.

The departure of Dr. Sexton to fill the position of VP of Public Service and Special Programs lead to the welcoming of Dr. Hansson as dean. The College continued to expand during Dean Hansson’s first year as enrollment experienced a 10 percent growth. In correspondence with the emphasized public interest in the environment, nature, and ecology, focus was placed on teaching agriculture students how to use and work with their hands. Steady growth continued to define the College of Applied Arts and Technology into the late 70s. The Department of Mass Communications was added to the College in 1979 followed by the addition of Military Science in 1980. Programs in the College of AA&T emphasized the importance of work experience and incorporated workshops in their studies even though the idea of practicum was a relatively new concept but was continuing to grow.

A quote from the 1981 Milestone, the Eastern Kentucky University yearbook, gives a good summary of the evolution of the College of Applied Arts and Technology saying, “If the United States is the melting pot of the world, then the College of Applied Arts and Technology is the melting pot of university courses. A student can study practically anything from Farm Dairy Production to Construction Material to Newswriting.” The college continued to strive with its hands-on approach to studying provided by excellent faculty. Increasing concern over the environment and energy indicated that enrollment in the college would continue to grow. Federal cutbacks in the mid-80s did not prevent the College’s growth and ability to keep up with the latest technology. 1984 marked the College’s 75th anniversary as well as implementation of the new aviation program.

Job opportunities for graduates of the College of Applied Arts and Technology remained abundant thanks to a broad technical or professional education allowing them to expand their field. The experience that students received enabled them to find good jobs. The College welcomed a new dean in 1991, Dr. Glen Kleine. The College of Applied Arts and Technology continued to provide students with an understanding of the special relationship between advanced technology and the society in which it serves.

Many first-generation students left the Richmond campus not only with a degree but with a new found knowledge to help make the world a better place to live and work. 1992 exemplified the College’s commitment to provide its students with the latest technology as LexMark donated four IBM robots for the CIM Flexible Manufacturing Laboratory and several other gifts of equipment for laboratory instruction totaling $227,000. Reorganization of the college occurred again in 1993 as it was now composed of the departments of Agriculture, Human Environmental Sciences, Mass Communications, and Technology.

The College of Applied Arts and Technology was joined by the College of Business in 1999 to form the College of Business and Technology under the leadership of Dean Bob Rogow. Programs in the College of Business and Technology were designed to provide students with an understanding of their role in a rapidly changing technology driven society. The College of Business and technology was divided into the School of Applied Arts and Technology and the School of Business in 2011 with Dr. Ed Davis and Dr. Rita Davis serving as associate deans, respectively.

The School of Applied Arts and Technology is divided into four departments. The Department of Agriculture continues to provide the important hands-on experience that has been offered through its history. The Department of Applied Engineering and Technology provides the latest technology for its students featuring laboratories housed in the Whalin Complex that include aviation, automation, electronics, computer aided drafting (CAD), flight simulator, graphic communications, quality assurance and metrology, materials and metallic processes, construction estimating, fluid power and computer applications. The Communications Department provides students with a balance of theory and practice with a continuing understanding of technology. The Department of Military Science and Leadership at EKU is one of the best ROTC leadership programs today.

The School of Applied Arts and Technology has been committed to a standard of academic excellence through providing students with the latest technology and the hands-on experience needed to be successful in their careers.

Download the PDF document of the full history, photos, and references below.

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