Unsung College Founders Back in the Campus Limelight

Celebrate a revived Founders Day Feb. 5 honoring the Ursinus College founders. (You might be surprised to learn that Zacharias Ursinus was not among them.)

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Though Ursinus College was named for 16th century German theologian Zacharias Ursinus, it was actually the college’s first president, Dr. John Henry Augustus Bomberger, who led a group of founders.

Bomberger was one of 21 members of the first board of directors who applied for the charter for the college, which was granted on February 5, 1869.

For the first time since 1995, Ursinus will celebrate its founders. The event will be held Feb. 5 at dinnertime in Wismer Hall. Wear your Ursinus gear to dinner and receive a special prize (while supplies last). Join the UC Bear in a “toast” to Dr. Bomberger and the 20 other Ursinus founders.

Students Today, Alumni  Tomorrow (STAT), working with the Advancement Office, is bringing back a tradition that started Feb. 11, 1909, under President Albert Edwin Keigwin (president from 1907 – 1912). The first Founders Day address was given by the Reverend D. Ernest Klopp, D.D., the only surviving minister who took part in the founding of Ursinus. Each year, Founders Day was celebrated in February until President Norman McClure requested it be moved to November to avoid bad weather.

For more than 85 years, the Founders Day program was a formal, academic convocation that included an address by a distinguished guest (including, over the years, the Governor of Pennsylvania, members of Congress and visiting professors, speaking about subjects such as “Country Life and American Problems” in 1927; or “The Role of Science Institutions in our Civilization” in 1942). A prayer, musical selection by an Ursinus College student group, the conferring of honorary degrees, and recognition of students who made the Dean’s List were additions to the program.

Founders Day has also served as an occasion to break ground on or dedicate buildings.The inauguration of President John Strassburger on Nov. 3, 1995, was the final Founders Day, until now.