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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:06:27 16:06:48

A view toward the Keystone College campus from Academy Street (now College Avenue) in Factoryville.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:06:27 16:07:47

Built in 1894, Thompson Hall was one of many stately Victorians along what was known as ‘Dormitory Row.’ The hall was named for Elias W. Thompson and has since been dismantled.

LA PLUME — One Hundred and Fifty Years.

In some ways, the passing of a century and a half seems like forever. In others, especially in the life of an educational institution, it seems like the blink of an eye.

For Keystone College, founded with wisdom and vision so many years ago, the passage of time has exemplified that double-edged paradox of a slow and steady journey through history, while making remarkable progress year by year and decade by decade.

This year, the Keystone community will celebrate the school’s 150th anniversary. A variety of special events will commemorate the occasion throughout the year.

The college also announced the completion of a two-year fundraising campaign which reached its goal of raising $7 million to help Keystone build its endowment and plan for the future.

“This is certainly an exciting time to be at Keystone,” said incoming Keystone president Tracy Brundage. “We’ve demonstrated that by working hard and working together, anything is possible. Even more important, as we progress, we still remain true to our basic ideals of providing an excellent education by putting our students first and treating everyone as a valuable member of our community. Through all the changes and innovations, the success of our students will always remain the most critical part of our mission.”

A history: Progress through effort

In order to appreciate the present, it’s sometimes beneficial and necessary to take a few moments to examine the past. For Keystone, the “past” began in 1868 in the rural Wyoming County community of Factoryville.

While eastern cities like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore continued to grow, the nation was still a collection of farms and small communities.

As Factoryville residents rejoiced at the conclusion of the Civil War, community leaders also worried about the educational needs of their children. There was no secondary school between Scranton and Binghamton, New York and they feared their children would be left behind in a world in which education was becoming an increasing priority.

“As the community along the lowlands of the Nokomis and Tunkhannock Creeks developed, a small group of enterprising men saw the need for education beyond the elementary school level,” wrote local historian and author Glenn D. Adams in his 1999 work, “A History of Keystone Academy and The College, 1868-1998.”

“Early in 1868, Charles Reynolds, great grandson of Captain Robert Reynolds and Stephen Capwell, met with James Frear in the latter’s general merchandise store. The conversation between these men concerned the lack of a preparatory school or a high school in the area.”

Soon after, Keystone Academy, “a seminary for young ladies and gentlemen” was founded with the school’s “first term” beginning in 1869.

In 1870, Harris Hall, named in honor of Keystone Academy principal John Howard Harris, was built and still stands proudly as a living monument to its founders. Most notably, inside today’s Harris Hall are the words from the school’s original seal, with the Latin words “Fit Via Vi” translated as “Progress through Effort.”

For Keystonians, those words, perhaps more than anything else, link the past to the present.

“‘Progress through Effort’ really does have a special meaning for anyone who has ever been associated with Keystone,” said long-time Keystone professor Terry Wise, who has studied the school’s history. “That phrase really symbolizes who we are and what we are all about. We realize that few things in life are easy, but if we continue to work and continue to believe, success will follow.”

“While the times, needs and methods have changed, the same spirit of dedicated faculty and staff work together with our students to help them secure their rightful place in our society,” wrote Keystone College president emeritus Dr. Edward G. Boehm, Jr., who served as Keystone’s ninth president from 1995 until 2013, as he reflected on Keystone’s early history.

Hard work and resulting success followed in the years and decades to come. Realizing the need for more than just a secondary school, Scranton-Keystone Junior College was formed and the first associate degrees were awarded in 1936. The name Scranton was dropped and Keystone Junior College quickly gained the reputation as one of the finest two-year colleges in the nation, sending students to complete their education at top schools such as Lehigh, Bucknell, Lafayette and others.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, as community colleges began to expand throughout the nation, the demand for residential junior colleges such as Keystone began to decline and enrollment began to diminish. Led by Dr. Boehm and a determined faculty and board of trustees, “Progress through Effort” would again prevail.

In 1995, Keystone Junior College became Keystone College, and in 1998, the Pennsylvania Department of Education granted permission for Keystone to award bachelor’s degrees. Keystone awarded its first bachelor’s degree in 2000.

“We just refused to give up or give in,” said longtime Keystonian Charlotte Ravaioli, who has served the college for more than 35 years as a faculty member, academic dean, vice president and special assistant to the president. “We knew that Dr. Boehm was an exceptional and inspirational leader. We put our faith in him, and in each other, and we made progress day-by-day and year-by-year. At Keystone, that’s really what we do best.”

That feeling of pride and comradery is passed down from generation to generation.

“As students, we realize that we are privileged to follow those who came before us and we also know that we have a responsibility to set an example for those students who will follow us,” said sophomore Mark Durdach. “That’s why it’s such an honor to be part of the Keystone tradition.”

Today, Keystone offers more than 40 undergraduate, masters and online degree options to about 1,400 students. Each year at commencement, the college awards about 300 degrees.

Campus activities and sports expanded dramatically over the years. Keystone now offers 22 varsity sports for men and women, including the reestablishment of football, which was announced earlier this year.

The campus continues to grow without losing its natural charm and dignity.

A new multi-million redevelopment project will soon begin along College Avenue, and the end result will be a new complex featuring two restaurants, a fitness club for students and the local community and a new Keystone College bookstore. Another project, funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, will simultaneously enhance the college’s main entrance.

A Year of Celebration

Keystone College and the local community will join together throughout the coming year to honor the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future. A series of events are planned, culminating in a 150th anniversary gala celebration in May of 2019.

 

Upcoming events include:

Aug. 11: 23rd Annual Christy Mathewson Day featuring Eddie Frierson, 8 a.m., Keystone College campus

Aug. 30: President’s Opening Convocation, 12:30 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Sept. 14-15: Art of Combat, Theatre in Brooks, 7 p.m., Sept. 14 and Daylong, Sept. 15

Sept. 20: Hispanic Heritage Celebration, 4-8 p.m., Student Restaurant

Sept. 27: The History of Keystone College and Book Launch, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Oct. 4-5: The Voices Project: Real Stories, Real People, Real Lives, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Oct. 11: Dennis Farm Symposium, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Oct. 12: 150th Anniversary Time Capsule, 9 p.m., Main Parking Lot

Oct. 12-13: Homecoming and Family Weekend, Keystone College Campus

Oct. 13: Founders Art Exhibit: Neuroth, Prokop, Tersteeg, 6-8 p.m., Linder Gallery, Miller Library

Oct. 14: Car Show, noon to 4 p.m., Main Parking Lot

Oct. 28: Performance Music Fall Concert, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Oct. 31-Nov. 4: Keystone Players Fall Production, 7:30 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Nov. 3: Natural Health Clinic, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Hibbard Campus Center

Nov. 8: 22nd Annual Scholarship Luncheon, noon, Theatre in Brooks

Nov. 18: National Native American Heritage Month Celebration: Pow Wow, 2 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Dec. 3-14: Winterfest Events, Keystone College Campus

Dec. 8: Performance Music Holiday Concert, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Feb. 12: Battle of the Bands, 6:30 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

Feb. 28-March 3: Keystone Players Spring Production, Theatre in Brooks

March 7: St. Patrick’s Day Concert featuring The Quietmen, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

March 24: Performance Music Jazz Spring Concert, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

March 28: Blue and Orange Kite Flying, 4 p.m., Athletic Field and Track Complex

April 13: Music and Arts Fair, 3-6 p.m., Keystone College Campus

April 18: Poetry Reading by Michael Montlack, 7 p.m., Evans Hall

April 25: All-College Honors Convocation, 12:30 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

April 25: Lecture by Keystone Alumnus Arthur Magida ’65, 7 p.m., Evans Hall

April 28: Performance Music Symphonic/ Vocal Concert, 7 p.m., Theatre in Brooks

May 11: 148th Commencement Exercises, 11 a.m., Pavilion at Montage Mountain

May 16: 150th Anniversary Gala Celebration, 6 p.m., Constantino’s Catering & Events, Glenburn Township