Southwestern Celebrates 125 Years at Founder’s Day

Southwestern Celebrates 125 Years at Founder’s Day

Festivities on the Southwestern Adventist University campus in Keene marked its 125th birthday on Thursday, Jan. 10, with myriad fun activities and food directed at friends, faculty and students of SWAU.

“We want to welcome you to a special day,” President Ken Shaw said as he opened the special assembly. “Our birthday.” His words set the tone for the entire day’s activities.

The birthday celebration actually started the night before with an interactive, campus-wide scavenger hunt that gave student participants the opportunity to win prizes, which were awarded during the weekly student assembly on Thursday afternoon.

Perhaps the highlight of the day came when a panel of current and former staff and alumni consisting of Dr. Robert Mendenhall, Bev Mendenhall, Booger Putnam, Dale Hainey and Kisha Norris answered questions from Dr. Amy Rosenthal, SWAU VP for academic administration. Antique images displayed on the screen included Keene’s old broom factory, old bands, the university’s former indoor swimming pool, a time when Leiske-Pultar Gymnasium didn’t have walls, the Cowabunga Skiiers, the Pioneer Memorial Tile Mural, and the fountain outside Findley Hall.

Dr. Robert Mendenhall, Kisha Norris, Dale Hainey reminisce with Dr. Amy Rosenthal during the Founder’s Day Assembly on Jan. 10.

“I’m glad I didn’t have to work in a broom factory,” senior communication major Gabby Behrens said after the assembly. “After seeing what students did to get through school, I feel like I have it a little easier than they did. It’s still hard. Don’t get me wrong!”

Behrens states that the coolest part of the assembly was seeing how the campus has changed. “I’m jealous that they had an indoor swimming pool.”

Centennial cupcakes and Southwestern’s vice presidents were featured during a special pop-up reception in the afternoon at the Chan Shun Centennial Library. The library was dedicated 25 years ago during Southwestern’s Centennial Founder’s Day.

Refreshments were available in the new nursing/administration building as well as the library.

Additional giveaways and refreshments were available in the afternoon at the new Larry R. Moore Nursing and Administration building, and an interactive timeline was exhibited at Chan Shun Centennial Library.

Cristina Thomsen, library director for the Chan Shun Centennial Library states that she came to Keene from Colorado in 1963 “as a little kid.” Her father, Eugene Thomsen, was hired to teach languages, including Spanish, German and occasionally Biblical languages.

“Keene was much smaller back then,” she says. “It felt more rural. There was a dairy. There were cows everywhere. Cows would always wander into our backyard.”

Thomsen considers Founder’s Day a “wonderful idea.” “It’s always great to stop and remember how we’ve gotten to this point. I thought it was so great that students were gazing at the maps on the screens in assembly, wondering where things were.

“Students seem to be interested in our history, and we need to look for better ways to relate campus history to them,” she says. “It seems that if our school has a history and a future, more people will want to be a part of that.”

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