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Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Sep. 15, 2023.

OU celebrates Founders Day

On Feb. 18, Ohio University celebrated its 220th. Founders Day created an opportunity for students, staff and Athens locals to acknowledge the several accomplishments since the university’s founding in 1804. The celebrations included a virtual 5k, a birthday bash and an archives presentation about OU and The Post during WWII. 

OU has been educating students from Ohio and around the world since 1804. The university says it works to provide a compelling education to each student, creating strong connections with alumni and growing a strong community. 

Lindsey Wolfe, the assistant director of alumni engagement, graduated in 2019 and still dedactes time to being a Bobcat. 

“Founders Day was always intended to be more of a group collaboration across campus,” said Wolfe. “We want it to be a showcase of the best parts of Ohio, not just talking about the past but also where we’re going in the future.” 

Wolfe continued to discuss the alumni association’s collaborations with other schools on campus such as the GRID lab, College of Fine Arts and physics department, mentioning their contributions to the celebration. According to Wolfe, the College of Fine Arts brought a printing press to create tote bags with student designs to give away to the guests. 

Saturday from 1-4 p.m. hosted a Birthday Bash, with food, activities and giveaways.

Not only are the Founders Day events open to students and faculty, but the university encourages local Athens families to attend and enjoy the celebrations. 

“The birthday bash, even last year and this year as well, is open to the community,” said Wolfe. “We saw a huge community presence last year, so we absolutely love to invite the Athens locals and the families and just have them celebrate with us.”

Along with the alumni association's events, the OU archives also play an important role in the history of Founders Day. Bill Kimok, OU archivist and recordist manager, attended OU and has worked for Alden Library since 1999.  Kimok discussed the importance of doing research in the archives, as it is hands-on and engaging.

“I think for students, that is a skill to learn whether they’re history majors or whether they're journalism majors,” said Kimok. “It’s learning to find the sources and then research is part of the skill and then interpreting those and putting those into your own words.” 

Recently, Kimok created the exhibit, “Ohio University and The Post during World War II: Stories from the Digitized Student Newspaper Collection.” The exhibit includes headlines from The Post in the 1940s and an inside look at the impact of the war on campus and local connections to the war’s activities. Kimok discussed the importance of the exhibit concerning Founders Day and how the archives continue to teach students. 

“I think it’s important for students to find a connection of their own life here and the past at Ohio University,” said Kimok. 

Kimok emphasized that Founders Day is not just focusing on the creation of OU, but rather all the history that has transpired since then.

“I think that’s an important part of Founders Day and what we do with our exhibits every year is we try to get students and everybody else who’s interested in it, to grab that kind of connection,” he said. “We’re going back to the founding of the university, but also to everything that’s happened since the founding. For me, the focus is always on the students (and) on student life since the founding.”  

Kimok continued to talk about how he encourages students to look at the exhibit and observe the different newspaper ads and movies that were shown during the post-war time period, as they can be entertaining and educational. 

Founders Day is meant to be an opportunity for students to acknowledge and recognize OU’s accomplishments throughout history. Julia Cooper, a sophomore studying psychology, talked about the importance of Founders Day and why students should celebrate. 

“I think it’s important to recognize how our university was founded,” said Cooper. “It was the first college in the Northwest territory … and now it’s split from one building to this crazy beautiful school that we have now. It’s just exciting (how) it’s been around for so long and that it’s still providing beautiful education for students.” 

Correction appended: a previous version of this article said the Birthday Bash took place on Sunday. The current report reflects the correct date.


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