SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University is planning a celebration that has been years in the making - 125 years to be exact, as the University marks the 125th anniversary of its 1889 founding. A campuswide committee of volunteers, with 201 days to plan the yearlong 2014 event for the campus and community, has been assembled.
The steering committee met June 6 to set the direction of the yearlong event that will launch in January and conclude in December 2014. Paper party hats, horns and "Happy Birthday" beads were distributed to set the celebratory mood.
Cheryl Norton, SRU president, charged the committee with establishing a celebration that would involve the entire University and the Slippery Rock community, which was initially responsible for creation of the Normal School that has developed into SRU.
Wilma Cavill, assistant professor of safety management and the University's longest serving faculty member, and Robert Watson, interim vice president for student affairs and vice president for student life emeritus, have been named honorary chairs for the celebration.
George Mihalik, professor of safety management and head football coach; Laurel Dagnon, director of programming in SRU's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership; and Judy Silva, assistant professor in Baily Library in charge of University archives, will serve as co-chairs of the steering committee. The president's cabinet will provide the vision and overall support for the celebration.
The theme for the year is "Celebrating Our Honored Traditions. Embracing Our Unlimited Potential." A website for the commemoration will be established listing all upcoming events and related materials.
In the inaugural meeting, Norton thanked those who agreed to serve on the various committees. "The 125 celebration is for the past and for the future. We are looking at 125 years of excellence. We want to create another memory celebrating our excellence across the country - and the world," she said. "This is a chance for remembering, a way of connecting the community and what we have been and what we will be."
She said she hoped SRU students would be involved in the celebration and that "lots of alumni would see the campus and say 'That is my Slippery Rock University" as part of the celebration. The steering committee has created a Twitter account for the anniversary celebration with a goal of gathering 100,125 views during the year. The Twitter handle is @SRU125.
Mihalik said the coordinating committee had already reviewed a number of suggestions for events to mark the anniversary and said, "Those serving on committees were selected because they are 'doers' - able to get things done. And I thank you."
"We want this to be a 'year to remember' for everyone involved," he said. "The overall purpose is to bring the entire campus together."
Silva said those heading committee would recruit other volunteers to help with specific projects and events and that anyone interested in getting involved would be welcome.
"Our main focus for the summer is assembling the committees' members and collecting ideas for events and programming. The steering committee will put together a preliminary calendar in August so we can hit the ground running when the new semester starts to ensure we are ready for the January opening," Silva said.
Dagnon, who will head event scheduling, said in addition to special events planned to mark the 125th, traditional University events scheduled during the year would be included as part of the special celebration.
"The yearlong event will be a signature celebration for the University. We are looking for innovative ideas and the committees are open to both ideas and membership. We are encouraging everyone, every department, to make their events part of the anniversary celebration," she said.
Celebration events will also be promoted through social media.
Projects already on the drawing board include a variety of historical timelines tracing the University's growth, major events and history, a special lecture series on the University's history and development, identifying 125 firms that employ SRU graduates; special 125 celebrations for alumni; gallery exhibits of University memorabilia; athletic events tied to SRU's history; and tie ins to other national companies also founded in 1889. A special fundraising gala will be planned for May.
Committees are also asked to collect historical memorabilia related to SRU.
Coordinating committee chairs related to the celebration are:
Mary Hennessey, assistant to the provost, for academic programs and faculty engagement committee;
Brad Kovaleski, director of SRU's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, student involvement committee;
Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning, facilities and operations committee;
Deborah Baker, director of special events, special events committee, including the gala;
Karen Perry, assistant director of campus recreation, staff engagement committee;
Thom Cobb, associate professor of dance, and Gordon Phetteplace, associate professor of theatre, arts and entertainment/faculty engagement committee;
Paul Lueken, SRU athletic director, athletics engagement;
Kelly Bailey, director of alumni engagement, and Kimberly Hudak-Jones, president of the SRU Alumni Association, co-chairs of the alumni engagement committee;
Barbara Ender, vice president for University advancement, and Samantha Swift, director of development with the SRU Foundation Inc., co-chairs of the advancement committee;
Karl Schwab, public relations specialist, communication committee;
Ken Harris, Slippery Rock mayor, and Bruce Russell, dean emeritus, co-chairs of the Slippery Rock community engagement committee.
Rita Abent, executive director of University public relations, and Tina Moser, assistant to the president, will serve as liaisons to the cabinet.
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.