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Inaugural Founders Day To Celebrate 135 Years Of Academic Success

April 15, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt, Amy Barnett

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Sam Houston State University will celebrate 135 years of academic success, while paying homage to its beginnings, through the inaugural Founders Day celebration on April 26.

Founders Day posterFounders Day will allow alumni, friends and faculty to reconnect through a day of interactive panels, a luncheon at the Peabody Library and will provide a unique opportunity to “grow” a new tradition.

Events will kick off at 9 a.m. with registration in the Smith-Hutson Business Building.

At 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., faculty- and administrator-led panels will be offered on “Building Bridges Between Town and Gown,” “How SHSU is Preparing Students for the Workforce,” “The Role of Arts and Media in Texas,” and “How SHSU Is Serving the Needs of the State.”

These panels will explain research projects, community service endeavors and the efforts of SHSU to place new graduates in the workforce.

“In many ways the individual research projects and classroom/teaching efforts of current faculty represent the heartbeat of the university,” said Jeff Wozniak, assistant professor of biological sciences and Founders Day panelist. “I think it is critical for all alumni—especially those who wish to continue to be engaged in shaping the culture of SHSU—to have a connection to what faculty are currently doing in the classroom and in the field. Hopefully all in attendance can walk away invigorated by some aspect of the current efforts of our faculty.”

During the Founders Day luncheon, attendees will hear from SHSU President Dana Gibson and keynote speaker Mac Woodward, an SHSU alumnus, Sam Houston Memorial Museum director and Huntsville mayor, who will discuss “Sam Houston State University—Then and Now.”

The event will end following a tree dedication ceremony at 2:45 p.m., during which a Catalpa sapling, grown from seeds from second-generation Houston-owned Catalpa trees, will be planted by Austin Hall.

Legend says that Margaret Houston planted two Catalpa trees on the property of the Woodland Home, their family’s house in Huntsville—one symbolizing her, and the other representing her husband.

large heart-shaped leaf
The heart-shaped Catalpa leaf, which, according to legend, was folded in half by Margaret Houston and sent in her letters to Gen. Sam Houston. Horticulture and crop science major Ali Ullrich planted seeds from the Houston family's Catalpa trees, which, as saplings, will be distributed to guests during the April 26 celebration. —Photo by Brian Blalock

While Gen. Sam Houston spent time in Washington as a state senator, the couple would send letters to each other professing their love and devotion; Margaret would often fold a Catalpa leaf and place it in the letter she would send her husband, as if she were sending him a heart-shaped Valentine.

Capping off the celebration, many alumni and friends will leave Founders Day with a Catalpa sapling as a memento of the day, a reminder of the university’s rich past and sign of its promising future.

“The idea of Founders Day is a great way to celebrate the university, remember why it is here, what the challenges have been throughout the years, and to celebrate how much we have accomplished and what we’ll do in the future,” Woodward said.

Prior to Founders Day activities, alumni are invited to the Samuel Houston Society Dinner on April 25.

Registration for Founders Day is $25, and the deadline for registration is April 21. Registration and complete schedule of events are available at shsu.edu/foundersday.

In addition, the President’s Office will commemorate Founders Day with a panoramic group photo on April 21, beginning at 2 p.m. at Intramural Field No. 2.

Live music will be provided by the SHSU School of Music, and cupcakes and punch will be served.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to wear their Bearkat orange.

For more information, contact the Alumni Association at alu_kat@shsu.edu or 800.238.7478, and to register for the Samuel Houston Society Dinner, contact the Office of University Advancement at 936.294.3625.



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