Archive for Saturday, December 10, 2005

Perspective

Periodic glimpses of history remind us just how important KU and its people have been since 1866.

December 10, 2005

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A piece of history about Kansas University from 100 years ago should remind us that the university has been creating favorable news for a long, long time. Despite recent less-than-positive happenings, it's an institution about which millions should be proud and appreciative.

It was by no means a media event, there were no news conferences or television exposures, but on Dec. 7, 1905, the element of helium was discovered by professor Hamilton P. Cady and assistant David McFarland in lab work at KU. It took a while for the significance of the matter to achieve general attention and admiration. During World War II, nonflammable helium had many valuable uses. And it all began here at KU after a substance had been found that many considered useless. That wasn't the case with Cady and McFarland, and it was one of the early KU achievements with international ramifications.

Just as the helium story began modestly and often is overlooked due to "breaking news" events and instant coverage in modern times, KU for well over a century has been contributing people and programs to benefit the societies in which it functions.

There are periodic displeasures, such as the recent creationism flap and the foolishness of a faculty member, and it is always easy to find reasons to complain about an entity with the depth and scope of the university.

But over the long haul, those "black eyes" are just sidelights that need to be put into proper perspective when one takes time to realize and recognize the countless contributions KU and its people have generated since the school's opening in 1866.

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