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ASU kicks off Centennial Celebration with Founders' Day, arch re-dedication

April 1, 2009 -- Arkansas State University’s Centennial Celebration got underway Wednesday with birthday cake, a carnival-like atmosphere, music, and a re-dedication of the Historic Arch in the middle of campus.

Arkansas State University-Jonesboro opened its Centennial Celebration with a re-dedication of the historic arch, the oldest extant structure on campus, at 2 p.m., April 1, 2009. The ceremony took place near Wilson Hall, another venerable building on ASU's historic quadrangle.

“Today marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of Act 100 of 1909 which created four agricultural schools—one in each district of the state,” ASU Chancellor Robert L. Potts told a large crowd at the Historic Arch re-dedication site. “We celebrate today along with our sister schools: Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Dr. Potts pointed out that Arkansas State’s name has changed over the years as a reflection of continuing growth.

“Our growth quickly outpaced our sister schools, and today we have matured into a comprehensive university with both teaching and research missions. We are proud to look back on our first 100 years as a bridge to our next century of educating, enhancing, and enriching the lives of our students.”

The newly landscaped Historic Arch site was originally a gift from ASU’s class of 1927 and marked the entrance to the initial classroom and administration building. The Arch faces south toward the railroad tracks as many students arrived to campus by train.

Student Aleigha Morton, dressed in a 1920s flapper style dress and hat, read from the class will of the Training School Class of 1927, “In the structure, we have tried to express in imperishable form our love for our school and pleasant school time, memories that will linger in our hearts throughout life; and our natural human longing that we, the class of 1927, may not be entirely forgotten, but may be recalled to the minds of the future students who enter beneath our archway.”

Birthday greetings were extended by president of the Student Government Association Ryan Beaird; president of the Faculty Association and chair of the Faculty Senate Louella Moore; president of the Staff Senate Rosemary Freer; and president of the ASU Alumni Association Gary Pugh. ASU System president Dr. Les Wyatt introduced the chancellors of ASU sister campuses—Dr. Eugene McKay of ASU-Beebe, Dr. Ed Coulter of ASU-Mountain Home, and Dr. Larry Williams of ASU-Newport. Also in attendance was President-Emeritus of Arkansas State, Dr. Eugene Smith.

The mayors of two communities—Mike Gaskill of Paragould and Harold Perrin of Jonesboro—whose towns were in the running for the university’s location, also addressed the group.

Special guest, Mrs. Opal Copeland Radford, who celebrates her 100th birthday next week, was also in attendance. The ASU graduate received a limited edition gift created for ASU’s Centennial Celebration by Art Professor Emeritus and printmaker Evan Lindquist. Lindquist’s engraving, titled “Unfolding Century,” reflects 100 years of thoughts, events and ideas as well as looking ahead to new achievements at Arkansas State.

Members of ASU’s Board of Trustees read congratulatory messages including a letter from President Barack Obama, entries into the Congressional Record by Senator Blanche Lincoln and Congressman Marion Berry, and a letter from ASU grad Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.

In closing, Chancellor Potts reminded the crowd that the re-landscaped Arch area, “serves as the key symbol for our Centennial theme, ‘Embrace Our Past; Imagine Our Future.’”

As students began to criss-cross campus during mid-morning, many stopped to indulge in a piece from one of the four decorated cakes located in the Historic Quadrangle. Throughout the morning, student organizations set up displays depicting their various histories, followed by a picnic lunch of hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, fried fruit pies and funnel cakes, and accompanied by the music of the Wolfpack Band. The ASU Brass Quintet performed in a concert prior to the Arch ceremony.

A parade in downtown Jonesboro Wednesday evening concluded the first set of many Centennial events to come over the next year.



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