Many are familiar with the story of Old Sorrel and the struggle early Cedar City settlers went through to build Old Main. It was the middle of winter and deep in snow, logs were brought down from Cedar Mountain for building construction. However, one step of the process seems to get lost in the details: toppled trees had to be sawed into workable boards before hauling the wood for construction down the mountainside.
Though the Jenson Sawmill has since been moved from its original location on Cedar Mountain (and restored to operational condition) to the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, the sawmill will at long last be recognized as a vital historical resource in a formal dedication ceremony on Thursday, March 25, at 12:30 p.m.
The Jenson sawmill dedication is one of many activities planned for Southern Utah University’s annual Founders Celebration. And the telling of little-known founders’ stories is a common thread among many of the week’s festivities.
Wednesday, March 24
To kick off the annual celebration, SUU will host Lunch at the Main, an activity that will take SUU students to varied historic spots on campus for food and founding stories. SUU prides itself in sustaining a close-knit, dedicated campus community as one of many efforts to keep the institution’s founding spirit alive.
Lunch at the Main stations will be located at Old Main, the Braithwaite Building, Old Sorrel, the Sharwan Smith Center Rotunda and the Library’s Special Collections, with stories about the Founders, retold by SUU alumni, from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 24.
The goal of Lunch at the Main, according to Associate Director of Alumni Relations Ron Cardon, is to “keep SUU’s history alive and involve the entire campus – students included – in a celebration of SUU’s birthday.”
In keeping with the Branch Normal School’s tradition of community involvement, this year’s Founders’ Day festivities have been designed to bring the campus, local community and SUU alumni together to honor those that worked so hard to make SUU a reality.
Following the campus wide birthday bash, SUU’s Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education and Human Development will host an open house in the Emma Eccles Jones Education building from 4 to 6 p.m. The open house will provide a review of SUU’s hallmark academic offering: teacher education over its 113-year history.
The University will then hold its annual Howard R. Driggs Memorial Lecture in the Gilbert Great Hall of the Hunter Conference Center at 7 p.m. This year’s guest speaker is Daniel Walker Howe, a historian of early national and religious U.S. history. He is a Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University in England and a Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. Howe received the Pulitzer Prize in history for his most famous book, What God Hath Wrought.
Thursday, March 25
On Thursday, in addition to the Jenson Saw Mill Dedication, the University and local communities will join together to honor some of the region’s most dedicated citizens at the Founders Celebration Dinner and Distinguished Service Awards.
This year’s award recipients include Terry Alger, David Grant and Diana Graff.
Alger, former Southern Utah State College provost and professor, will be recognized for more than 30 years of service to higher education in southern Utah, including playing a vital role in SUSC’s climb to university status and the establishment of southern Utah’s first graduate program offerings.
Grant, businessman, civic leader and life long supporter of higher education, will be recognized for his advocacy for the education of Utah students who live beyond the Wasatch Front and for his campus-specific contributions to the expanding curriculum and facilities at SUU.
And Graff, former dean of library services at SUU and the University’s first female academic dean, will be recognized for her visionary transformation of SUU Library Services, which will enhance the campus and local learning environment for years to come.
All three award recipients embody the stalwart commitment and self-sacrifice characteristic of the original Branch Normal School founders and represent an elite group of modern-day founders who continue to ensure SUU’s long-term success.
The Founders’ Day Distinguished Service dinner and award ceremony will be open to all those who wish to join with the University in honoring SUU’s legacy and modern-day founders.
Tickets, which are $20 per person, may be purchased by Monday, March 22 by calling 435-586-7775. The formal celebration will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 25 in the Gilbert Great hall of the Hunter Conference Center.