Butler University is reintroducing Founder’s Day on Thursday to shed light on how the university was started. The event has not taken place since 1966.
Members Butler’s staff, including Vivian Deno, said they want to use this event to remind students of the values Butler was founded upon.
“We hope to give students a point of entry into our history,” Deno, associate history professor, said in a Jan. 22 Faculty Senate meeting.
Various activities will be held throughout the day, including a life-size cutout of Butler’s founder, Ovid Butler, being made available for students to take pictures with.
The day will also include a set of speeches to be read at Starbucks and a portrait of Abraham Lincoln to be unveiled in Irwin library.
Sally Childs-Helton, associate professor and
librarian, said most students do not know the radical beginning the university had.
“It was unheard of for a school to accept both students of all gender and all race,” Childs-Helton said. “That is what we want to show students.”
Childs-Helton said the school needs a reminder of its values following the article written by Ryan Lovelace last year for The College Fix.
“The university needs to embrace our founder’s values of diversity and inclusivity more seriously and in a more proactive way,” Childs-Helton said. “I don’t think people today can appreciate how radical of an act the founding of this school was.”
Deno stated the same reasoning as Childs-Helton for the reboot of Founder’s Day during the Faculty Senate meeting.
“This emerged out of the crisis last semester,” Deno said. “We failed to message our own identity to the students.”
The event at Starbucks will include readings of parts of letters and speeches, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, a speech by Frederick Douglass and several other speeches by Butler opposing slavery and supporting equal rights.
Lawrence Lad, associate management professor, said in the same Faculty Senate meeting, he hopes this will provide students a glimpse into what the time of the university’s founding was like.
“We want to provide talking points about the value of our roots,” Lad said. “It is a great thing for the issues this country and university are facing.”
The day will begin at 12:15 p.m. in the library with the unveiling of an archival pigmented print, or extensive copy, of “LINCOLN 200 YEARS,” which is an original painting that already hangs in the history department. The painting was donated by Greg Silver, who will speak at the event.
The final event of the day is “I Lay My Stitches Down: An Evening with Children’s Book Illustrator Michele Wood.” Wood will discuss her most recent work at 6 p.m.
The Founder’s Day recognition ceremony will take place at the women’s basketball game against Rhode Island at 7 p.m.