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Scholarship received in 1957 led Marvin Proctor to lifelong career

06 June 2018

One hundred dollars – the amount may seem insignificant to some, but to Marvin Proctor, the $100 scholarship he received to attend Pratt Community College in 1957 would be the start to an education that would provide him a lifelong career with the institution, even if he did not know it at the time.

Proctor graduated from Haviland High School in the spring of 1957 as one of the top three students in the class. Since the principal did not award valedictorians or salutatorians, all three were announced as the top student to the three different schools they decided to attend. That summer, Proctor received a visit from a Pratt Junior College recruiter.

“The recruiter was talking to my dad and me,” said Proctor. “He said if I did well in school, he could offer me a scholarship. I told him that would be very nice. That’s what we need. He offered me a $100 scholarship for two years, because the tuition at the time was $25 a semester.”

Aside from the substantial difference between the cost of tuition in 1957 to today, Proctor recalls the price of textbooks being quite different as well.

“I had to buy all my books,” said Proctor. “I still have one of my old trigonometry books and it shows the price of it was $6. It’s all relative.”

The $100 scholarship paid off. Proctor graduated as the top male student at Pratt Junior College in 1959.

“I was awarded the Porter Scholarship for being the top male student,” said Proctor. “I got another $100. When I was still teaching here, the scholarship was worth $2,500, but they were splitting it up between several people. When I graduated, the total amount was $100. That shows what the value of an endowed scholarship is over time.”

Proctor put the scholarship he was awarded into good use. He attended Kansas State University to become an engineer. However, his original plans did not quite pan out.

“I am one of the very few people who left engineering because I actually liked mathematics, rather than the other way around,” said Proctor. “So, I became a math major. I graduated with a degree in mathematics at K-State and took their teaching block so I could start teaching.”

The next fall, Proctor started teaching at Buhler High School. He taught there for three years before deciding he wanted to move on to bigger things.

“After teaching at Buhler, I applied for an academic year fellowship at the University of Illinois in mathematics,” said Proctor. “I found out later there were over 700 applicants and they only accepted 45 of us.”

Proctor spent the next full year – regular term and summer term – attending the University of Illinois to obtain his Master of Arts degree.

“When I attended K-State, I got my Bachelors of Science degree,” said Proctor. “I thought that was what you were supposed to do in mathematics. When I arrived at Illinois, I met a fellow who said he had a degree in science and now he wanted one in arts. I decided that sounded good to me as well, so I got a Master of Arts degree instead of science. Then, over the years, I became really convinced that mathematics is more of an art and not a science. It’s a humanities. It’s a language. It has its own vocabulary. So that’s the way I view it – as an art and not a science.”

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Proctor needed a place to teach. As Proctor realized, faith works in funny ways.

“One of my math instructors at Pratt Junior College knew my wife’s parents very well and knew that I was graduating,” said Proctor. “I spoke with him and he put in a word to the president at the college. They contacted me and asked me to apply to teach at Pratt.”

Proctor had thought about applying at other colleges, but decided applying to Pratt Junior College would be a better idea.

“I loved my experience there as a student,” said Proctor. “So that’s what I did. I applied to teach there and I got the job in 1966.”

Proctor spent the next 38 years teaching a wide variety of math classes. He recalls teaching everything from beginning math classes such as Survey of Math and Beginning Algebra all the way through Calculus III and Differential Equations.

“My favorite class to teach would have to be calculus because I had really good students,” said Proctor. “Another class that was my favorite was intermediate algebra, because of the students’ motivation. The people were in that class because they knew they had to be. They had to pass college algebra to graduate and they had to have that class to do it. They were very self-motivated.”

The night classes he taught were also some of his favorites because they usually had adult learners.

“They were almost my favorite because they were so motivated as well. They needed to succeed. They worked hard and I found that interesting,” said Proctor.

During his 38 years teaching, Proctor recalls several changes to the school and technology in itself that made his job of teaching mathematics easier. One of the major changes included the popularization of calculators.

“When the calculator came about, I thought it was great,” said Proctor. “They developed so fast. The first calculator I saw was being sold in a store downtown. It had a cable with a stylus attached to it. You had to pick the stylus up and touch the pad to complete the circuit instead of punching a key.”

Proctor wasn’t opposed to using calculators in the classroom. The first time he recalls seeing a calculator in one of his classes was by an older gentleman who came back to school.

“He wanted to be an engineer,” said Proctor. “He bought a Hewlett-Packard 45 for around $460. Soon they came out with the Model 35, which cost around $100 less. That’s when most of us settled in and we got those. They were replaced a few years later by one at Walmart that cost $14.”

Aside from the changes in technology, Proctor also recalls moving from the old central school to the building where PCC is today.

“One thing that is kind of memorable is the move from the old central school to here,” said Proctor. “I, being one of the newest members of the faculty, didn’t know you were supposed to say no to certain things! Somebody suggested that I should chair the moving event. I had to oversee that every room was taken care of in some way.”

The major equipment and rooms, such as the President’s office, were contracted to be moved with Wegele Moving, a company that was located downtown. The instructors were responsible for moving their own materials themselves. Students volunteered to place books from the library in their vehicles and drive them to the new building, where they were then stacked up until they were able to be placed on the proper shelf.

“Overall, it was really fun,” said Proctor. “I had a map of the whole new building and had to try to keep people going in the right place. People would get turned around so fast in the pods where the classrooms are located. It caused total confusion! Nobody knew where they were, but we got it all moved eventually.”

Proctor and his wife, Eunice, are still located in the Pratt area. He currently serves on the Foundation board. Despite retiring in 2004, he still does what he can to support the students at PCC. He recently sold half of his antique tractor and engine collection at an auction where he raised enough money to set up an endowed scholarship.

The Marvin L. Proctor Family Scholarship will be available for students starting in the fall. The recipients are required to have at least a 2.5 GPA in high school and maintain a 3.0 GPA while at PCC. The scholarship is not restricted to any program or major in particular, giving all students a chance to better themselves and a chance to make a difference in their lives, just as the $100 scholarship he received did to him.

“The $100 scholarship I received made a difference in my life. It really did,” said Proctor. “The students are important. Without them, the college wouldn’t exist. We need to support the students.”

September 6, 1938, Pratt Junior College opened its doors as the 14th junior college created in Kansas. Pratt “Juco” welcomed 150 new students to its original campus located on 401 S Hamilton St. Eighty years later, Pratt Community College, is proud to have helped build the futures of thousands of students on-campus, online, at our Winfield and Wichita learning centers and through high school concurrent enrollment.

The mission of Pratt Community College is maximum student learning, individual and workforce development, high quality instruction and service, and community enrichment. PCC is proud to be a part of the community in Pratt, Kansas. With more than 80 years of history, PCC remains humbled to serve our community and students who come to build a foundation for their lives.

This year we celebrate this grand anniversary and remember those who’ve walked through these halls. Each month during 2018 PCC is proud to feature stories and memories from alumnae, community members and faculty who have helped see our institution and mission grow. If you would like to share an experience or memory or be considered for one of our monthly features contact Jessica Sanko, 620-450-2192, jessicas@prattcc.edu.