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The ceremonial bell ringing by Lana Myers, a retired University employee and granddaughter of Edwin DeCamp, who first rang the bell Sept. 23, 1902 to signal the start of classes at Western Illinois State Normal School.
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WIU Founders' Day Sept. 25: New Format to Feature Guest Speaker

September 5, 2017


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- In 1899, a bill to establish Western Illinois University (then called Western Illinois State Normal School) was passed by the state legislature. Macomb was selected in 1900 as the location for the new normal school in west central Illinois, and on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 1902, Western Illinois State Normal School opened its doors for the first official day of classes on the new campus.

Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to celebrate the founding of Western at the 24th annual Founders' Day Celebration Monday, Sept. 25 at Sherman Hall, where history was made 115 years ago. This year's event will feature a new format, including a guest speaker.

The 2017 Founders' Day Celebration will begin at 1 p.m. on the front steps of Sherman Hall with the ceremonial bell ringing by Lana Myers, a retired University employee and granddaughter of Edwin DeCamp, who first rang the bell Sept. 23, 1902 to signal the start of classes at Western Illinois State Normal School. Participants are asked to gather on the front steps between 12:45-1 p.m.

Following the bell ringing, the program will continue at 1:15 p.m. in the Sherman Hall Auditorium (third floor), with guest speaker WIU Alumnus, Former State Sen. and chair of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors Kirk Dillard '77. A post-event reception will be held immediately following the program. The Sept. 25 program is open free to the public.

"The vision and fortitude of our community's leaders and those educators who charted the course for this outstanding institution is cause for great celebration," President Jack Thomas said. "We are excited to have Kirk Dillard join us as our keynote speaker as we commemorate the history of Western Illinois University. I invite our University and community members to join us for the 24th annual Founders' Day Celebration."

As chair of the RTA Board, Dillard and board oversee the nation's second-largest public transportation system, which serves more than eight million residents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. For nearly 20 years, Dillard served as the Republican senator for the 24th District of the Illinois State Senate. Additionally, he served on several committees while in the senate including serving as co-chair of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the High Technology Task Force. Prior to serving as senator, Dillard served as chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar and as legislative director to former Gov. James Thompson. He is currently a partner at Locke Lord LLP, one of Chicago's oldest and largest law firms.

A Founders' Day Celebration will also be held at the WIU-QC campus at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26 in the Rock Island County Board Community Room (Rms. 103/104) in Riverfront Hall on the WIU-QC campus. The program will begin with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with the program to follow at 8 a.m. Dillard will also speak at the WIU-QC event. Additional information regarding the WIU-QC Founders' Day event will be posted in a separate release.

The Founders' Day event, which began in 1994, celebrates the beginning of the University that evolved from the Western Illinois Normal and Training School with 229 students to today's University, which offers a comprehensive curriculum to nearly 10,000 students.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations