Campus / News / February 14, 2019

Founders Day to honor Knox history



Knox alums Harold Turner and Marian Turner on Founder’s Day in 1954, the 117th Founder’s Day. Made just two years prior, the cake was topped with a bell tower made from a #10 tin can on this day. (Special Collections and Archives, Knox College Library, Galesburg, Ill.)


While Founder’s Day has become routine in terms of the ways it is celebrated, organizers normally put together a more elaborate set of events every five years.

Gallas mentioned that on the 175th Founder’s Day, large cutouts of George Washington Gale were made and placed around campus.

She says that, in the early parts of Knox’s history, Founder’s Day had served as dedication days for buildings such as Seymour Library.

“It’s just kind of a nice time where you know probably a lot of people are going to be back and it’s like, oh, this would be a really good time to celebrate this new addition to the campus,” she said.

Gallas enjoys the annual ceremonies and handing out of cake, but hopes to make Founder’s Day more informative for students. She mentioned that she and some of the student Alumni Ambassadors had set up an informational booth during homecoming weekend, and would like to do more of that for occasions like Founder’s Day.

“We’d really like to do some more with Knox traditions and kind of educating people about traditions if we couldÉ talking about the college’s history and explaining to the students who these people were,” she said.


Knox Alums Martha Barden Cole and Hermann Muelder celebrate the 123rd Founder’s Day in 1960. (Special Collections and Archives, Knox College Library, Galesburg, Illinois)


For Gallas, the culmination of Founder’s Day, along with the wooden cake, is the Alumni Achievement Award ceremony that takes place each year during Founder’s Day Convocation. This year, the ceremony will take place on Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. in the Muelder Room of Seymour Library and will honor Joe Cecchi ‘68, Mark McIntosh ‘72, Bridget Coughlin ‘94 and Joel Christensen ‘06.

Alumni Director Carol Brown is tasked with assembling a committee which works to select the four alumni who are honored each year. Nominations are sent in by faculty, staff and family and are then voted on by the committee. Each year, three alumni are recognized in the ‘regular’ category, and one young alum is recognized. For Brown, this ceremony has a multitude of functions. Not only does it honor Knox alumni, but it also provides motivation for current students.

“The reason this is important is because it is a very visible way for current students to see what alumni have gone on to do in their lives after Knox,” she said. “It never fails, in my experience, that the recipients share very heartfelt stories about their Knox experience when they were a student as well as explain what they’ve gone on to do with their professional lives, or sometimes service lives.”

Brown enjoys hearing what successful alumni find valuable in their Knox education. She noted that many discuss the accessible faculty, financial support and fast-paced curriculum as aspects that made their Knox education so valuable.

“I think most appreciate the challenging academic environment here,” Brown said. “Many have spoken about how well prepared they were as they went on to graduate school because of the rigorous curriculum here and how much they appreciated that after the fact.”

Sam Jacobson, Co-News Editor
Sam Jacobson is a junior majoring in philosophy and potentially minoring in creative writing or psychology. She started volunteer writing during spring term of her freshman year, and worked as a staff writer during her sophomore year.

Tags:  alumni alumni achievement alumni ambassadors founders day george washington gale

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