Murray State University Centennial

Since 1922

In 1922, Murray, Kentucky, was chosen by the state legislature as the home of the western Kentucky normal school, known today as our beloved Murray State University. For 100 years, Murray State students have been provided a collaborative, opportunity-rich living and learning community that fosters personal growth and professional success through a high-quality college experience.

In a year that promises to be like no other, let this be your guide to get involved and celebrate our Centennial together. From special events, giving campaigns, volunteer opportunities and exclusive merchandise, available at the University Store inside the Curris Center or online, we know you will find a way to commemorate this tremendous milestone with us.

Over the course of ten decades, Murray State has been building a global alumni community. We cannot wait to see what the next 100 years has in store for our University and for our Racer Family all over the world. We are future-thinking. We are trailblazers. We are Racers.

centennial logo

The Finest Place We Know

Murray State University’s centennial book, "The Finest Place We Know," celebrates its 100-year story by looking back on the people, places, and events which have shaped the institution’s history. This comprehensive, keepsake pictorial history features hundreds of images from the Pogue Special Collections Library and is accompanied by stories that explore the institution’s founding and growth over the past century.

The book, being published by the University Press of Kentucky, is written by Murray State President Dr. Robert L Jackson and co-authored with Sarah Marie Owens, library specialist with Pogue Special Collections and University Archives, and Dr. Sean J. McLaughlin, the archives and museum director at Murray State University.

"The Finest Place We Know" is available for pre-order through the University Press of Kentucky.

Pre-order now

A portion of book sale proceeds will go toward supporting Murray State University’s Pogue Library.

cover of the centennial book

Event schedule

Make plans to join us for Centennial events and activities throughout 2022 as we celebrate our birthday all year long! Centennial Celebration plans include art, history and museum exhibits, a Founder’s Day Celebration including local and state legislative proclamations in March, a full week of Centennial activities beginning April 18, a community-wide birthday celebration in July, Family Weekend in September and, of course, Homecoming, featuring a Centennial Gala in October! 

Events and event details are subject to change. Follow Murray State University on social media for further details regarding upcoming events throughout the year. 

Stay tuned! A podcast celebrating our 100-year-history is expected to drop in March and will be available on a podcast app near you! More details coming soon. 

Want to stay up-to-date on all things centennial all year long? Make sure we have a reliable email address on file for you by updating your contact information quickly and easily with the Office of Alumni Relations. 


clocktower and 1922 embossed on concrete

Murray State University’s story began with the spirit of giving.

In 1922, the Murray and Calloway County community came together to give $117,000 in cash and real estate in an effort to win the bid for a Normal school in west Kentucky.  This was remarkable for the times - 1,352 donors made an average gift of $82.10 with $2,500 the largest cash gift received.  Additionally, 350 families opened their homes with the promise to board up to 2,000 students should Murray be selected for the location of the school.  This incredible philanthropy was shared with the Normal School Commission in Frankfort on May 31, 1922 - with more gifts continuing to be made and counted ahead and following the presentation.  Later that year, on September 17, 1922, Murray was chosen to be the site for the Murray State Normal School.

After 100 years, our alumni, community and friends continue to give to support Murray State and our students.  In that spirit, we encourage you to consider making a special gift through one of the following special Centennial fundraising campaigns for 2022.

Make a special gift

Give Bold - A special week of giving March 6-12 in honor of the March 8, 1922 passage of the Normal School Enabling Act by the Kentucky General Assembly and marking the launch of the very first fundraising campaign that would lead to the establishment of Murray State Normal School.  Help us celebrate a new century of impact by making a gift to the campaign today!

Give Bold

Recruit 100 New Members of the 1922 Society… Take a walk on our 1922 Society brick walkway in front of the Gene Wells Ray Science Campus!  The 1922 Society was created in 2013 as an effort to honor Murray State University’s history and to help build its future through an alumni scholarship endowment. The 1922 Society Legacy Scholarship Endowment will perpetuate the legacy of Murray State University’s rich heritage and traditions by providing scholarships to students with a familial relationship to Murray State. Help us grow this program with 100 new members in our Centennial year!

Become a member of the 1922 Society

Establish 100 New Endowed Funds and 100 New Planned Gifts in 2022… ensuring the long-term sustainability of Murray State University.  

Please contact the Murray State Office of Development at 270.809.3001 or for more information on these special Centennial giving campaigns. Commemorative Centennial Gifts will be presented to donors who give through these special campaigns.

Murray State University through the years

Scroll through the decades to see some of our favorite memories. 

The Founding Era, 1922 — 1936

  • sketch of campus

    Early sketch of the normal school campus from the architects at Joseph and Joseph.

  • portrait of Rainey T. Wells

    Dr. Rainey T. Wells, Kentucky legislator, founder, and second president of Murray State Normal School.

  • John W. Carr portrait

    Dr. John W. Carr, first president of Murray State Normal School.

  • First board members of Murray State Normal School

    Murray State Normal School’s first board members with President Carr: Laurine Wells Lovett, Tom Stokes, Prentice Thomas, and James Wilson (from left to right). Absent is Dr. McHenry Rhoads, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and first board chair.

  • students at normal school

    Students of the first senior class at Murray State Normal School and Teachers College, 1926.

  • wrather museum

    Administration Building, 1923, now Wrather West Kentucky Museum.

Surviving Hard Times, 1936 — 1948

  • basketball team

    1936-37 Men’s Basketball Team. Claude “Mac” McRaven is seen in the back row, second from left.

  • War ration card

    The war brought hardships on the home front as basic commodities Americans took for granted were in short supply. Seen here is Prof. Price Doyle’s ration book.

  • student diving into campus pool

    The first campus pool, Health Building.

  • Navy flight cadets

    Uniformed Navy cadets.

  • dean of women, Anna Mayrell Johnson, and Jane Haseldon

    Dean of Women Anna Mayrell Johnson (right) and close friend Jane Haseldon.

  • Ralph Woods and Dr. Ray Mofield

    President Ralph Woods (left) and Dr. Ray Mofield on WPAD radio.

The Postwar Boom, 1948 — 1966

  • ruth e. cole

    Dr. Ruth E. Cole, director of Nursing Education.

  • Mary Ford Holland

    Mary Ford Holland, grade school teacher and the University’s first Black student.

  • Johnny Reagan

    Legendary baseball coach Johnny Reagan, 11-time OVC champion.

  • Nancy Tyler Demarta

    Nancy Tyler Demartra was the first Black student to graduate from Murray State in May 1961.

  • students use phones

    Lobby pay phones were rarely an ideal spot for private conversations, so residence-dwellers cheered the introduction of dorm room telephones in 1963.

  • the hut in 1960s

    The Hut, early 1960s.

The Boomers Come of Age, 1966 — 1981

  • Gene Murray and Linda Edwards

    Students Gene Murray and Linda Edwards celebrated the state legislature’s decision to elevate Murray State to university status in 1966 with this improvised signage

  • volleyball team

    Volleyball was one of several women’s sports added in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

  • waterfield library dedication program

    Program for the dedication of Waterfield Library, 1978.

  • violet cactus

    Violet Cactus, the original Racer One, takes a touchdown lap.

  • Carla Coffey and Margaret Simmons

    Carla Coffey (top center) and Coach Margaret Simmons (bottom center).

  • clara eagle gallery

    Art auction at the Clara Eagle Gallery, 1970s.

Innovation and Modernization, 1981 — 1997

  • Taiwanese students pose with their flag.

    Taiwanese students at Tent City.

  • Dr. Marvin D. Mills, Sr.

    Dr. Marvin D. Mills, Sr., professor of occupational safety and health.

  • Mr. MSU Alan Zacharias

    Pi Kappa Alpha’s Epsilon Alpha chapter was the first national social fraternity installed on campus in 1958. Mr. MSU Alan Zacharias leads the Pikes at 1983’s All Campus Sing.

  • education major teaching Belizean students

    Murray State education major teaching Belizean students.

  • Miller Memorial Golf Course

    Concentrating on a putt at Miller Memorial Golf Course.

  • Coach Frank Beamer

    Coach Frank Beamer hoisted by his players after a win.

A New Millennium, 1997 — 2013

  • CFSB Center groundbreaking

    Groundbreaking for the Regional Special Events Center (later known as the CFSB Center). The multi-purpose facility opened in 1998 and is the current home of Racer Basketball.

  • Paducah regional campus building

    Murray State’s Paducah regional campus building.

  • Rainey T. Wells monument

    Edward Breathitt’s Rainey T. Wells monument was added to the campus quad in 1997.

  • The Arboretum at Murray State

    The Arboretum at Murray State.

  • Waterfield Library in 2009 Ice Storm

    Damage outside Waterfield Library, 2009 Ice Storm.

  • Holly Williams performing

    The Lovett Live! concert series produced by Racer Live Productions and Murray State’s music business students featured nationally-known performers in an intimate setting. Seen here is Holly Williams in 2013.

Preparing for A New Racer Century, 2013 — present

  • Dr. Jesse D. Jones

    Dr. Jesse D. Jones, Distinguished Alumnus.

  • e-vehicle project

    Senior Engineering students with their E-Vehicle project.

  • Alumnus Ja Morant

    Ja Morant, NBA Rookie of the Year.

  • lab equipment

    New laboratories and research equipment provide numerous opportunities for our students and faculty.

  • Woods Park concert

    In April 2021, the Department of Music hosted the first concert on the site of the future Woods Park, a new green space being developed at the corner of North 14th and Olive Streets.

  • Dr. Jackson with Board of regents

    Murray State University Board of Regents with President Bob Jackson. The Board accepted an invitation from the Missouri Valley Conference during a special meeting held at Wells Hall on January 7, 2022.


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