Freshman class marks 100th year

Steve Bushong

After convocation, freshmen received T-shirts pointing out that they could be famous – sort of.

In 2010, Kent State will be a century old. And if members of this year’s incoming class navigate the perilous waters of college with timeliness, they could be part of the occasion.

“The freshmen should be proud because they’ll be part of a university milestone,” said Kathy Stafford, Kent State’s vice president for University Relations and Development.

And to cool the suspicions of those who believed they’re being shortchanged, a T-shirt isn’t all the university has planned for them.

One year ago, a centennial committee was formed to plan the celebration surrounding Kent State’s landmark year. Already, preparations for the centennial celebration have been set into motion.

Retired Kent State librarian Dean Keller and emeritus English professor William Hildebrand have just started work on a book about Kent State.

In an e-mail, Hildebrand described the book as a family story, rather than an institutional history. It will focus on the “fascinating story of Kent State’s first century of struggles and triumphs,” he wrote.

The book’s text, written by Hildebrand, will be balanced with photographs collected by Keller.

For background music while reading the book, a musical composition for the centennial has been orchestrated by emeritus professor of music Halim El-Dabh, Stafford said.

Thomas Neumann, associate vice president of communications and marketing, said a theatrical production is also in the works.

The play will reenact the days before Kent State existed and how, only by chance, Kent State ended up in Kent, he said.

Neumann described the next four years as a “crescendo of events” leading up to the centennial.

“We are looking for ways to affect students, staff and the community,” he said.

Stafford said most of the events haven’t been solidified yet, but “we’re working on it,” referring to the centennial committee.

Currently, the committee’s primary responsibility is to raise awareness that 2010 is fast approaching, Neumann said.

To do that, the committee has so far made changes to the official school emblem by adding, “Celebrate Centennial, 1910-2010,” and by making the wardrobes of freshmen university-wide a bit more chic.

That is, with the 7,800 stylish, message-carrying T-shirts it bought for the newcomers.

Contact safety reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].