Ursinus turns 150

Ursinus looks back at its history and celebrates

Maddy Rodak

marodak@ursinus.edu

On Feb. 5, a large banner
was strung up along Olin Plaza, trumpeting Ursinus’ Founders Day. This year’s Founders Day celebration was extra special
due to the fact that it’s the 150th anniversary of Ursinus’s inception. All day long, various events were held across campus, and anyone and everyone was invited to partake in the festivities.

STAT (Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow) was in charge of organizing the events for the anniversary, which included a coffee hour at the library, a campus wide scavenger hunt, a visit from John Henry Augustus Bomberger IV, a Founders Day dinner, and
a raffle at our women’s basket- ball game. “[Founder’s Day is]
a campus wide celebration that encouraged students, faculty, staff, and alumni to jump in and celebrate 150 years of Ursinus!” said Mallory Stratton, Associate Director of Young Alumni & Student Engagement.

Stratton detailed how the day’s events started early in the morning, and didn’t stop until dinnertime. “The morning kicked off with a campus wide breakfast in Myrin,” Stratton said, “followed by a scavenger hunt to win $150 awarded at a reception featuring John Henry Augustus Bomberger IV, a descendant of our first president.”

Along with the events for everyone on campus to partake in, there were various free gifts and surprises along the way. “Students were then invited to join a special dinner in Wismer with a photo booth, sparkling cider, trivia, and free t-shirts for all students,” Stratton said.

Ursinus’ alumni were not left out of the day’s festivities, either. “Alumni were invited to regional programs in Hoboken and Mt. Holly, NJ and Washington, D.C.,” Stratton said. “This was
a fantastic way to begin celebrations for the Sesquicentennial celebration which will officially kick off in the fall of 2019.”

If trying to dig up past information about past Founders’ Days and Ursinus’ history
in general, Associate Professor and Department Chair of History Dr. Susanna Throop suggested students check out #BearsMakeHistory. “Breaking Ground” is the digital history project that deals with Ursinus’ history. The project argues that, “Founders’ Day [on] December 5, 1991 was a special occasion because it celebrated Myrin’s 20th anniversary. The building had undergone years of renovations, changes, and updates which reflected the changing needs of the students, faculty, and staff.”

When looking back at 1991’s Founder’s Day, it is interesting to see how much the campus has changed. For example, alcohol was banned from first-year centers, gender-inclusive Greek organizations were introduced, and Myrin Library used to be Freeland Hall. Some of these old buildings, including Freeland Hall, served multiple purposes. The digital history project ex- plains that “Ursinus College used [Freeland Hall] to its fullest. The building was once a dining hall, common area and ball room, classroom, housed the football team, students, and contained apartments for some faculty and staff. In 1897, the basement was renovated to become kitchen space, dining room, servant’s quarters and closets.”

“Breaking Ground” also describes how the Myrin Library came to be what it is today. “In 1913, renovations were made to house more students and meet the present needs of the college,” the project explains. “On its 100th birthday year Freeland hall was destroyed. . .. After the destruction of Freeland Hall, Dr. William S. Pettit, President of Ursinus College, had planned to build a new centrally located library. This project was in part one of his Centennial Building Program . . . construction began in 1969 and was completed the next year in 1970.”

Now in its 150th year, Ursinus is embarking on the Sesquicentennial Campaign, marking a new era for the college, from the construction of the Innovation and Discovery Center (IDC) to the new Commons set to open in fall 2019. The festivities of Ursinus’s 150th anniversary celebrated the evolution of Ursinus and also highlighted what is still to come.