Going uphill to school… her way

Only 16 years old, Susan Savage rode her pony, Neo, three miles from her home to the top of Mount Oread to enroll in classes the day KU first opened its doors. She joined 25 other women and 29 men — KU’s first students — and carpenters still putting finishing touches on North College.

Sixty years later, Susan Savage Alford wrote for the alumni magazine, fondly and poetically documenting her memories of the university she attended and the city she helped settle.

As a witness to Quantrill’s raid, Alford understood that the university represented both a victory and vast potential. “The walls of its pioneer building were, indeed, cemented by blood, tears, and sacrifice,” she wrote. “Could any location be more appropriate for a great University than historic Mt. Oread!”

Though she did not graduate herself, Alford raised six children who did. One, her son Alfred, is believed to be the model for the student standing with “Uncle Jimmy” Green in the bronze statue outside Lippincott Hall.

Alford maintained a lifelong allegiance to KU, and her stories stand alongside those of generations of Jayhawks who studied, taught, and lived on Mount Oread.

Throughout this 150th year, Jayhawks are encouraged to share their own stories, and community members and prospective students are encouraged to visit campus — just leave the pony at home.

Visit 150.ku.edu for more information on KU’s sesquicentennial celebration.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
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