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UConn’s 125th anniversary to start with celebration, exhibit in Wilbur Cross

by Sherry Fisher - January 17, 2006

Faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and members of the Mansfield community are invited to the University of Connecticut’s 125th anniversary kick-off celebration Jan. 25, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the atrium of the Wilbur Cross Building.

The celebration marks the start of a yearlong series of events and activities highlighting the institution’s history since its founding as Storrs Agricultural School in 1881.

During the Jan. 25 event, an exhibit celebrating the University’s history will be unveiled, followed by a short speaking program and a reception for all guests. The exhibit will focus on some of the University’s most significant moments and milestones, using film, photographs, and text. Part of the exhibit is a video kiosk with film footage relating to the founding of the University, the growth of the Storrs campus, student traditions, and early and recent athletics.

“The 125th anniversary events give us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the University’s many accomplishments and the individuals who contributed to our progress,” says President Philip E. Austin. “During the past century and a quarter, we have grown from a small agricultural school to one of the nation’s outstanding public universities, and in the process have become one of our state’s greatest assets. We are excited to share our story with the UConn community and the citizens of Connecticut.”

UConn history professor Walter Woodward, Connecticut’s state historian, says, “This is a celebration in which all the people of Connecticut can take part, and take pride. The sustained commitment to education by the people of this state over a period of 125 years sets the University of Connecticut apart from other universities.

“Today, thanks to years of support and sacrifice, we are realizing the dream of generations – for the University of Connecticut to become a great university, not just for some, but for all of us.”

Speakers will include Austin, Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson, Woodward, and Alfred Rogers, ’53, an African-American who was a student in the early 1950s and was confronted with bigotry. Rogers wanted to join a UConn fraternity but his admission was rejected by the fraternity’s national organization. As a result, the UConn fraternity terminated its national affiliation and Rogers became a brother.

UConn 125th Anniversary logo

Mark J. Roy, webmaster at University Communications and author of a history of the University published in 2001, will present an overview of UConn history through photographs from University Archives.

More than 40 members of the University and the town of Mansfield have been planning campus and University-wide activities, and have served as resources for others organizing anniversary events.

An interactive 125th anniversary website, which will go live on the day of the kick-off, includes updates on events, video clips, electronic postcards, a quiz, historic photos, a timeline, and images for desktop wallpaper. The website is http://www.uconn.edu/125/.

University Communications has also created a special logo, which is available for use by University offices during the anniversary year. The logo and a set of standards may be found on the website.

“The University has a rich history, and we want to commemorate and illustrate it in interactive and creative ways,” says John Barry, director of University Communications.

“We want students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and residents of Connecticut to share our sense of pride, celebrate what we’ve become, and reflect on our many contributions to the citizens and state of Connecticut.”

Upcoming anniversary activities include the release of a special Dairy Bar ice cream flavor on Feb. 10 during the annual One-Ton Sundae event at the Student Union, and a campus-wide celebration on April 21, Founders Day.

In the fall, a book launch will be held for a specially commissioned history of the University, researched and written by Bruce M. Stave, distinguished professor of history emeritus.

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