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A Brief History of Founders Day

Ursinus College is celebrating Founders’ Day—the commemoration of those who founded the College over 150 years ago—on Friday, February 4.

Founders Day has a long history at Ursinus. The idea to celebrate the college’s origins was first suggested in 1892, but it wasn’t until February 11, 1909, that the first annual celebration commemorated not just the founding of Ursinus in 1869, but also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (complete with a eulogy!). Eventually, the Presidents’ Day connection faded, but the celebrations kept going until the mid-nineties.

Most of the earlier celebrations were held on Sunday afternoons in Bomberger Hall with much fanfare. They celebrated not only the founding of the college, but also other special events and occasions such as Ursinus presidential inaugurations, groundbreakings, building openings, portrait unveilings, special campus anniversaries, dedications, rededications, the naming of campus buildings, and the conferring of honorary degrees and student degrees. Founders Day convocations were always held in February for historical accuracy, but during President McClure’s administration in the 1940s, they were changed to October and November to avoid inclement weather. The inauguration of John Strassburger on Founders Day, Friday, November 5, 1995, was the last formal Founders Day celebration. Though there was a special campus wide festive lunch held a year later on November 1, Founders Day convocations and festivities fizzled. Until…

Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) revived Founders Day with a “Party like it’s 1869” theme on February 5, 2016. Ever since that revival, Founders Day has had a party-like atmosphere. Recent celebrations have included a scavenger hunt, a game show, an ice carver who carved an Ursinus Bear in Olin Plaza with an electric saw, s’mores, a hot chocolate bar, a digital escape room, and free item giveaways.

Join in this long tradition celebrating Ursinus’s rich history on Friday, Feb. 4, in the Bears’ Den! We’ll be happy to see you there.

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Carolyn Weigel
Archives & Special Collections Librarian
Library and Information Technology

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