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It is a laudable aim of educational institutions continually to bring solidity and scholarship to their teaching boards, thereby adding greatness to their organizations and at the same time making certain the wider diffusion of knowledge. The Kansas State Agricultural College, at Manhattan, Kansas, had pursued this course in the selection of its faculty, with the result that some of the ablest and most enlightened educators of the country devote their time and efforts to this progressive institution. Among these mention may be particularly made of Prof. J. W. Searson who, for the past six years, had occupied the chair of English.
J. W. Searson was born on a farm near Grand Island, Nebraska, in 1873. His educational training began early in the country schools, after which he pursued academic and collegiate courses. When only twenty-six years old he received his Master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, having won his Bachelor’s degree in the previous years, entering the university after being graduated from the Grand Island High School in 1891. He had since been working for his Doctor’s degree.
Mr. Searson entered the educational field as an instructor very early and his abilities soon won definite recognition. In 1894-95 he was principal of the Weeping Water High School, and from 1896 to 1898 he was a teaching fellow in the department of history in the University of Nebraska. In 1899 he accepted the position of instructor in history in the high school of Lincoln, Nebraska, and for six years following, was superintendent of the city schools of Wahoo, Nebraska. This mutually pleasant association was broken in 1905 when he accepted the call of the Nebraska State Normal School at Peru, as professor of rhetoric and literature. Professor Searson remained in that congenial atmosphere until 1910, when he was made associate professor of English in the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan. The following year he was advanced to his present position, that of professor of the English language in the same institution.
In the meanwhile Professor Searson had become widely and favorably known on the lecture platform. In 1913 he gave a series of lectures before the summer school of the University of Utah, and before and since had appeared very frequently at county institutes and in district and state associatious, his educational work having taken him into Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota and Kansas.
Not only as an educator and lecturer had Professor Searson come before an appreciative public, but also as an author. In addition to editing a series of questions on college entrance requirements classies and school textbooks, he is the author of a number of educational monographs, one of the editors of The American School, and also of a series of reading texts officially adopted in Kansas, “Self-Correction in English,” and a series of “Studies in Reading.”
On many occasions had Professor Searson been chosen for posts of honor. In 1904 he was elected president of the Nebraska State Teachers’ Association, and he had also been honored with election as vice president of the National Educational Association. First, in 1913, and again in 1916, he was called upon to act as director of publicity of the National Educational Association. He holds scholarship honors in the Phi Bets Kappa and the Phi Kappa Phi fraternities; is an honorary member of the national debating and journalistic fraternities and had membership in the following: the American Quill, the Kansas Authors’ Club, the Kansas Editorial Association, the Kansas State Teachers’ Association, the American Dialect Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Council of Teachers of English, the English Association of Great Britain, the Society for the promotion of Engineering Education, and the State historical societies of Nebraska and Kansas.
Professor Searson had never found much time for politics but those who question him are never left in doubt concerning the strength of his principles concerning good citizenship. He is identified with the Masouie fraternity and he was reared in the Methodist Episcopal Church.