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Founder’s Day celebrations kicks off Forever Ohio

Editor’s Note: The T-shirt swap, set to take place Thursday, Feb. 18, has been postponed a week and will now take place Thursday, Feb. 25.

The Ohio General Assembly approved charter plans for Ohio University on Feb. 18, 1804, and because of that, the university is celebrating 217 years of OU. 

Leading up to Founder’s Day, a new brand related to OU has been in the works: Forever Ohio. 

“The idea of the Forever Ohio platform is that we have been here for 217 years, and we will be here into the future,” Robin Oliver, vice president of University Communications and Marketing, said. 

With the Forever Ohio brand, UCM wanted to create a way for students to show off their spirit and the new logo — and from this stemmed the idea of a T-shirt swap. 

“We are inviting students to come on Founder’s Day and bring your ‘some-other-school’ T-shirt,” Oliver said. “You can fill in whatever other school you might have a T-shirt for, and we will give you a free Forever Ohio T-shirt.”

The T-shirt swap will take place at Baker Center between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m with only 1,200 shirts available. Students can bring their pre-loved T-shirts and swap them and also pick up a cupcake. All T-shirts that are collected from the swap will be donated to the Salvation Army of Athens. To ensure social distancing at the T-shirt swap, plexiglass dividers will be set up, “masks required” signs will be used and floor decals will be placed to ensure a 6-foot distance between students. 

“It’ll be fun to see what kinds of shirts we’ll collect in the trade-off event,” Carly Leatherwood, executive director of communication services, said. “I’m excited to see the students walking around in their Forever Ohio gear.”

OU will ring the Cutler Hall bell at 2:17 p.m. to honor the 217 years the university has been in existence, and Cutler Hall will also be illuminated by a wash of green light. 

Every year for Founder’s Day, Alden Library typically displays an exhibit with a theme to celebrate another year of Ohio. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the library has created a digital exhibit called “Since 1804: Glimpses of People and Places of Athens & OHIO.”

“It’s a chronological look at the history of Athens and Ohio,” Laura Smith, a photo archivist at Alden Library and the curator of the online exhibit, said. 

Smith and her colleagues began working to create the exhibit early last fall. When creating the exhibit, Smith didn’t have to look much further than the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections. 

“I was able to spend a lot of time delving into our digital archives and researching that material,” Smith said. “And using the description that’s been put into the record for that material to either write those captions or investigate a little bit further and contextualize those materials a little bit more.”

The exhibit features letters, maps and photos from the beginnings of OU, students of the late 19th century, the 60s, the 70s and more. Much like this year’s exhibit, last year’s founder’s exhibit “Celebrating Music from OHIO,” is still available to view online. 

Although this year is not a typical celebration of the founding of OU, students and staff alike are still hoping to celebrate in a smaller way. 

“Traditionally, we do things like have cake at Baker Center for all the students, but of course because of the pandemic, we can’t do the whole effect of the celebration as we have in the past,” Leatherwood said. 

In the future, UCM is hoping it will be able to continue an annual T-shirt swap and encourage students to be brand ambassadors for Forever Ohio. 

“We know that you love and enjoy your experience at Ohio University, and we want to see students celebrating the brand on and off-campus,” Oliver said. 


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