Sesquicentennial plans underway for U celebration

by Amber Foley

When the University’s 150th anniversary rolls around next year, officials don’t want to be caught behind the times.
To prepare, Susan Eastman, sesquicentennial event coordinator, began a series of meetings at the St. Paul Student Center on Friday morning to generate enthusiasm for the anniversary and the University.
“The number one thing we’re trying to do is to build awareness,” Eastman said. “We want to say thank you to Minnesota for supporting the University.”
During the 2000-01 school year, annual University events — including homecoming and commencement — will have an added historic flavor. But sesquicentennial organizers are also planning several events unique to the celebration next year:
ù First, University performers and exhibitors will make their way across the state, showing off the University’s history and accomplishments.
ù Secondly, the University will commemorate the signing of its charter on Founders Day, Feb. 25, 2001.
ù Finally, the sesquicentennial year will be capped off by a grand finale event to be held in May 2001.
These events “are geared toward renewing our partnership with the state,” Eastman said.
But Eastman and other sesquicentennial organizers aren’t limiting the 2000-01 celebration to their own ideas.
Part of the reason for this year’s meetings is to get others involved in planning, Eastman said.
“It doesn’t need to be hard,” she said. “It could be by just hanging up a banner at a ‘welcome back’ barbecue for students.”
Eastman also encourages others to plan events with sesquicentennial tie-ins.
“I encourage any organization or student group to … let me know what they’d like me to do,” she said.
Eastman said that student participation is very important.
“The number one reason we’re here is for the students,” she said.
Eastman’s presentation also focused on creating enthusiasm for the history and for the future of the University, ending with a surprise appearance by John Pillsbury, the long-dead founder of the University.
Pillsbury-impersonator J.B. Eckert, an Institutional Relations employee, said, “This isn’t the same old thing, the sesquicentennial only comes once, we need to make it special.”
Eastman will travel around the University throughout the next year, encouraging students and faculty to get involved.

Amber Foley covers the St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]