Cici Chagnon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Friday, February 4, Ursinus students, faculty, and staff celebrated Founder’s Day a day early, observing the establishment of the college in 1869. Balloons dotted the center of campus while S.T.A.T. (Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow) handed out goodies to the community from their table in the upper Wismer Lobby. Students could also take pictures with friends at a photo booth in the Bear’s Den.
This year’s theme, chosen by the Office of Advancement, was “Rooted in the Past…Planted in the Present…Growing for the Future.” Associate Director of College Events and Signature Programs, Christine Funchion, helped decide the theme. “Our team came up with the theme for this year’s Founder’s Day while brainstorming on program ideas. The theme represents Ursinus in not just the past, but the present and future, as well.”
Students could pick up succulents to represent the theme, along with spirited-stickers, Philly soft pretzels, and hot chocolate packets. Faculty also received succulents and goodie bags in their own designated section of Wismer. S.T.A.T also created flyers with a short explanation of the meaning of Founder’s Day. Mackenzie Donatelli ’24, the Traditions Ursa Major of S.T.A.T, organized the event with fellow S.T.A.T teammates and the executive board. “[The flyers] just said when the college was founded, little fun facts, a little picture, stuff like that to get students more engaged,” she explained.
S.T.A.T, along with the Ursinus community, feel that Founder’s Day was successful in bringing together the Ursinus community and spreading joy on campus. “I thought it went really well. I liked seeing the students happy,” exclaimed Donatelli. Amanda Marley ’23 agreed that attending the Founder’s Day festivities with friends provided them with a much-needed study break. “We got to hang out, take some photo booth pictures, and grab a succulent,” she said. “It was a great way to celebrate the start of Ursinus!” Rachel Herman ’25 felt that Founder’s Day perfectly represented its slogan. “I thought Founder’s Day really connected the community back to our roots,” she said.
Founder’s Day has been an Ursinus tradition since 1909, as Archives and Special Collections Librarian, Carolyn Weigel, explained in her piece on the event’s history. While today’s “Grab and Go” event is much more casual, Founder’s Day was once a more formal affair. Students dressed in their “Sunday best” and gathered in Bomberger to hear from the President and featured speakers. Founder’s Day also marked the addition of several buildings on campus as well as inaugurations of presidents. “They had groundbreakings of buildings on campus, they named buildings, dedicated them,” Weigel explained. “It was for whatever was happening on campus around that time of year to be highlighted.”
Despite the toned down festivities, both due to modern changes as well as COVID-adaptations, all Bears can appreciate Founder’s Day for its history and liveliness. “I think it brings a sense of the history and how long the college has actually been here, and possibly a new appreciation for everything that’s gone on,” Weigel said. Happy Birthday, Ursinus!