Canoe races on the Pomme de Terre, spring 1967
During 2010, the Morris campus reflected on its dynamic 123-year history. The first campus buildings housed an American Indian boarding school. In 1909, the University of Minnesota established the West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station (WCSA) boarding high school on campus, and in 1960, the University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) opened its doors.
In September 2010, the campus celebrated Founders Weekend events.
Media Services documentary reflects on place and purpose
Thursday evening, September 23, featured the premier of a campus documentary, Promise of the Prairie Education in Three Acts, created by Media Services. The film explores campus history from the American Indian boarding school era, through the WCSA period, to the University of Minnesota, Morris years, noting the campus's impact on the region, state, and beyond.
Bettina Blake, retired vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, reflects in the documentary on her welcome speech for first-year students.
“ … the four years are very short …. So as quickly as possible you have to get yourself ready to take over your student government, your major, your classes. If you don’t like the way things are going in your division or your subject field, you can do something about it.’ And that was the idea of it. They were to take over so that by the time they were seniors the institution as a whole had advanced, because no college will—if it stays static it’ll die.”
Screenings of Promise of the Prairie were held in Edson Auditorium several times throughout the weekend.
On Friday, September 24, the Chancellor’s Advisory Council gathered on campus and a celebratory evening gathering was held for the University of Minnesota, Morris Presidents Club and special guests.
History panel, tours, and lots of music
On Saturday, September 25, the day began with a Retirees Luncheon in the Welcome Center. At noon, campus guests gathered for a campus history panel. “Blooming Where We’re Planted” featured Steve Granger, retired assistant to the chancellor and founding faculty member, Gary McGrath ’68, former vice chancellor for student affairs, Bettina Blake, retired vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, David Johnson, retired chancellor, and Sam Schuman, retired chancellor. Special guests were Helen Briggs, wife of Morris’s first chief administrator, the late Rodney Briggs, and Lucy Imholte, the wife of Morris’s second chief administrator, Jack Imholte, who was not able to attend because of health concerns.
Throughout Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, Green Campus Tours departed from the new Welcome Center. The tours provided an opportunity to view the Welcome Center, a state-of-the-art green building, and to learn about wind, biomass, and solar energy initiatives and projects on campus.
Music was the theme throughout the afternoon and evening. The street dance was moved indoors because of inclement weather, but a good time was had by all in Edson Auditorium listening to two bands chosen through an online contest to open for the featured groups: Work of Cunning Giants and The Upfuls.
Monroe Crossing, an award winning Minnesota group, followed and played classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and original music.
With clearing weather, the Johnny Holm Band was able to take the stage outdoors to the mall. A well-known, high-energy performer, Holm entertained students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community.
Community Meal, Welcome Center dedication, and Founders Day program
On Sunday, September 26, a free Community Meal on the Mall was held. Following the meal, Founders Day participants honored campus history with a variety of events. The Welcome Center, a “green” renovation, was dedicated, and the building’s history as Community Services and the WCSA’s Engineering was recognized. The Robert B. DeWall Memorial Courtyard, a gift to the campus, was dedicated in honor of one of the original members of the West Central Educational Development Association, the grassroots community organization that persuaded the University of Minnesota Board of Regents to establish the University of Minnesota, Morris.
The grand finale of the weekend, the Founders Day program, “Songs and Stories: Morris Past, Present, and Future,” officially commemorated the University of Minnesota, Morris’s 50th birthday—on the exact day UMM’s first students began in 1960, September 26. An American Indian Honor Song was performed as a program prelude, and the event also honored the 100th anniversary of the founding of the West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station.
The program included the “Star Spangled Banner” sung by Gretchen Retka ’10, Fort Ripley; a welcome by Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson; University greetings from Tom Sullivan, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; a poem by Paulette Fairbanks Molin ’66, “To UMM,” read by Brittany Anderson ’12, Circle Pines.
Speakers included Todd Gramenz ’12, St. Paul, and Chuck Grussing ’75, Morris, introduced by Sandy Olson-Loy, vice chancellor for student affairs; excerpts of the speech “The American Dream” read by Sam Schuman, retired chancellor and author, and Josh Preston ’13, Montevideo; Jim Togeas, professor of chemistry, and Michelle Page, associate professor of education, introduced by Cheryl Contant, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean; Harold Fahl ’45 (WCSA), retired plant services superintendent, and Hilda Ladner, assistant to the chancellor for equity and diversity and director of equity, diversity, and intercultural programs, introduced by Lowell Rasmussen, vice chancellor for finance and facilities; David C. Johnson, retired chancellor, introduced by Ryan Klawitter ’11, Wadena; Sharon Stewart Reeves ’68 and Laura Thielke ’95, introduced by Maddy Maxeiner, associate vice chancellor for external relations; and Chancellor Johnson.
In closing, Ken Hodgson, associate professor of music, directed the choir in singing the “UMM Hymn,” composed in 1960 by Ralph Williams, professor emeritus of music. A birthday party reception followed.