The Centennial Countdown clock on the wall of the Administration Building rolled is rolling to March 6, 2009. That’s the official launch of the 100-year celebration at Northeastern State University.
The countdown began on Aug. 20 at the NSU Centennial Community Picnic, which set the tone for this once-in-a-lifetime event as it drew nearly 800 celebrants to the Senator Herb Rozell Ballroom in the University Center. Since that day, momentum has been building on campus as students, faculty, and staff prepare for the 100th anniversary of Founders Day on March 6, 2009. It was nearly a century ago that the Oklahoma legislature purchased Seminary Hall from the Cherokee tribal council to establish Northeastern State Normal School.
The significance of Founders Day is wrapped in 100 years of adherence to the educational standards established at the Cherokee National Female Seminary, which opened in 1851 at Park Hill.
“NSU will officially mark the Centennial on Founders Day, when the fledgling state of Oklahoma began to use Seminary Hall as its new Normal School,” says NSU President Dr. Don Betz. “On March 6, we welcome everyone to join us as we honor the past, embrace the present, and envision the future together.”
The dedication of Centennial Plaza, just south of Seminary Hall, is one of several events scheduled to commemorate Founders Day 2009. The area is currently being refurbished to become a gathering place for NSU students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike. The focus of this project is a statue of Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet.
“The Sequoyah statue will forever link NSU with its origins as a Normal School beginning in 1909 and as the locus for Cherokee higher education as early as the 1850s,” says Dr. Betz. “The Plaza and the revitalized entry to the NSU campus in Tahlequah will welcome students and visitors to the institution.”
Founders Day is significant to current students because it symbolizes the commitment of those who understood the importance of education and created the institution that today is NSU. Pausing to pay tribute to those who have shaped the institution since its founding is a way of connecting students to NSU’s rich educational heritage.
“The Cherokee Nation was the first to educate young women and we are standing on hallowed ground in terms of Oklahoma education,” Dr. Betz noted. “When you think back to where it began, people weren’t thinking just about the moment, they were thinking about how deeply they could plant the seeds of education to make sure people would grow and that society would flourish.”
The official ceremony on Founders Day will also include presentations and entertainment by special guests. Details of the event are being finalized by the Founders Day Committee, said Jerry Cook, NSU Director of Community Relations and committee co-chair.
For more information about Centennial events or other happenings on the campuses of NSU, visit www.nsuok.edu.