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January 24, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Bells, Grand March kick off SRU's 125th

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Bells will be ringing in your ears at 11:30 a.m., Jan. 30, when area churches and the University ring their bells to officially launch a yearlong celebration of Slippery Rock University's 125th anniversary. The bell ringing symbolizes the community's involvement in establishing the University in 1889 and calls the local and University community to join together in the celebration.

The year's activities will begin with the bell ringing and a "Grand March" that will weave across campus from it starting point outside Old Main, the oldest building on campus, to the Smith Student Center, the newest building on campus. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to join the march either at Old Main or as it nears their building in route to the opening ceremonies on the first-floor of the Student Center.

Cheryl Norton, SRU's 16th president, will lead the march that includes an Army ROTC color guard, a drum line, the University Grand Marshall Wilma Cavill, the longest serving SRU faculty member and honorary co-chair of the event, and an array of campus and community dignitaries. Robert Watson, interim vice president for student affairs and honorary co-chair for the celebration, will represent the founding families in the march.

Members of the SRU Council of Trustees, Slippery Rock Borough officials, students and faculty have been invited to join the march, as it travels from Old Main past North Hall, Weisenfluh Dining Hall, Patterson Hall and Morrow Field House. The march will cross the Quad, passing on the east side of Vincent Science Center before reaching the Smith Student Center.

Norton will offer remarks to kick-off the celebration and will help launch the Green and White Society's yearlong "We Are The Rock," names project.

Throughout the year, volunteers, including students and invited guests, will read the names of approximately 80,000 students who have attended SRU since its inception. The names will be read at various locations and events throughout the year.

"We want to keep our history and our growth at the forefront during the entire year," Norton said. "Every event on campus will be keyed to the 125th, a very important milestone in our history."

"We will also salute the people, especially those with relatives who were instrumental and had the foresight 125 years ago to launch such a monumental undertaking. I doubt any of them could have imagined their idea to form of a school to train teachers would grow into such a magnificent institution as we have today. We certainly thank them for their efforts, their dedication and their foresight. We will use their example throughout the year to show students and visitors how what may seem like small projects, when properly nurtured, can pay very handsome, long-term rewards for so many."

Banners marking the 125th anniversary have been mounted on light poles throughout campus and the downtown community as part of the University's awareness campaign.

SRU was founded by the people of what was then Centerville as the Slippery Rock State Normal School - a facility where students trained to be schoolteachers. The facility, started in only a few buildings, has grown to more than 60 buildings housing state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories as part of a quality university serving 8,300 students.

Over the years it has changed names from the State Normal School at Slippery Rock to Slippery Rock State Teachers College, then Slippery Rock State College and ultimately Slippery Rock University, a leading member of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

Following the short official program at noon, SRU's University Program Board will take over offering a carnival-like celebration for students in the Smith Center Ballroom.

All of the UPB activities will incorporate the University's 125 logo, including caricature-drawn T-shirts and photo snow globes, said Erica Siciliano, a graduate student studying student affairs in higher education. She works with UPB as part of her duties in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership at SRU.

"We have teamed with the University to present fun events at the opening" she said. "Students will have the opportunity to have their photo taken on a 'green screen,' which allows a background they select to later be added to the photo. The photo will include the 125 banner," she said. There will also be a chocolate fountain with various items to dip.

A 25-member 125th Anniversary Steering Committee of volunteers, headed by George Mihalik, professor of safety management and head football coach, Judy Silva, assistant professor of library, and Laurel Dagnon, program director for the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, is planning a variety of special events throughout the year under the theme, "Celebrating our Honored Traditions. Embracing our unlimited potential."

Additional highlights already on the calendar include a Founders' Day Celebration, March 26; An Evening of the Arts, March 28; a President's Scholarship Gala, May 31; a Founders' Picnic, June 21; and the SRU vs. Mercyhurst University football game at the University of Michigan, Oct. 18. The game will celebrate the 35th anniversary of SRU's first visit to the "Big House" and will attempt to break the Division II attendance record that was set at the 1979 game.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.