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The Carletonian

Carleton celebrates landmark 150 years

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4c0a21ad-e8d7-2dd1-d5ae-b883e975c288">On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Carleton celebrated its 150th birthday.

To celebrate this landmark anniversary, the college hosted special events throughout last weekend.

The fall celebration started Wednesday with the bells in Willis chiming to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” As Carleton’s anniversary aligned with the ending of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, programming was limited on Wednesday, according to Brad Schaffner, College Librarian and one of the Sesquicentennial Planning committee Co-chairs .

On Thursday Oct. 13, members of the Carleton and the greater Northfield communities were invited to an event in Bridge Square. “We wanted to engage the town,” said Schaffner.

The event included food trucks, a cake in the shape of Willis Hall, a performance by the faculty band the Counterfactuals, and speeches by President Poskanzer, St. Olaf’s president, and mayor Dana Graham. In addition, the Northfield Historical Society created an exhibit, “Hometown Ties: Carleton Celebrates 150 Years with Northfield,” exploring Carleton’s history. There was free admission on Thursday. The exhibit will be on display until June.

While there was some discussion of a street dance initially, the logistics involved and possible disruption of flow to businesses led to the creation of a different type of event that was, “in town, but benefited business,” said Schaffner.

Friday afternoon, renowned humorist and Minnesotan legend, Garrison Keillor gave a convocation. “We knew we wanted someone who would give us good presentation and be well known,” said Schaffner.

Keillor, who received an honorary degree from Carleton in 1996, waived his speaking fee.  “He’s a gracious person and was gracious to us,” said Joe Hargis, a member of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee.

“It really helped give our celebration a Minnesota flavor.”

Other major events for the weekend included student showcases Friday evening, a dance with music by Sonny Knight and the Lakers, lectures on Carleton’s history and a carnival that featured mini donuts and a ferris wheel. “I think people thought we were crazy when we went for a ferris wheel,” joked Schaffner.

While the largest campus-wide celebration ended last weekend, an ongoing exhibit at the Perlman Teaching Museum, titled “Independence of Thought: An Unfolding Story, 1866-2016,” will continue to be open until Wednesday, Nov. 16, according to the director and curator for the Perlman Laurel Bradley.

The exhibit features the work of students from two classes taught in spring 2016. Students in “The Art of Exhibition” worked with with alumnus Gary Vikan ’67 to conceive the concept and layout of the exhibit. Students were challenged to “present artifacts, objects and documents that will create a memory rich environment,” said Bradley.

History Professor William North also taught a course titled “Carleton in the Archives” where students found and produced content for the exhibit.

The exhibit highlights five specific years–1850, 1918, 1942, 1971 and 2001. “They chose an image to set the tone of each section,” said Bradley. In addition, to amplifying these images, the students found a text corresponding to each era. A community member recorded this text and voices can be heard in sound cones throughout the exhibit.

Along with the work completed by students, Academic Technologist Andrew Wilson created a virtual model of the airplane flown by Carleton students enrolled in the air force training program during WWII. Using augmented reality glasses, visitors can walk around the model and peer into the windows of the plane, according to Bradley.

Although the majority of 150th anniversary events occurred over the weekend, celebrations of this landmark actually began at the 2016 reunion and will conclude at the 2017 reunion, according to Schaffner.

Tasked with organizing events in honor of Carleton’s birthday, the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee began organizing for this celebratory school year over 18 months ago, according to Hargis.

To begin planning, the committee received a report, created by a pre-committee, with possible ideas for activities. They also read reports from the organizers of the 100th and 125th anniversary celebrations to help brainstorm possible ideas, according to Schaffner.

“Once the real planning got started, which was about a year ago, then we met pretty much monthly and continued to meet after plans were in place and things were set,” said Hargis. “We continued to meet right up until the week before the big celebration on campus.”

“The challenge, I think, with this for those of us who were planning and executing is that it is on top of everything else going on. It is not like you can set aside your work for a year or a few months. It’s on top of other important work at the college,” said Hargis.

Overall, the maximum budget for the year-long celebration was $200,000, according to Hargis.

As bills continue to come in, the final expenditure is still unknown. “It will be about the equivalent for what we spend at a commencement for example. I think the college got a lot of bang for its buck,” said Hargis.  

Both Hargis and Schaffner praised the members of the committee and everyone who helped to organize. “An event like this is a chance for the college to come together and celebrate its past but it’s also a chance to celebrate its present and even its future,” said Hargis.  

Soon, the committee will meet to write a report about the event to be used as a reference point for Carleton’s future birthday parties, according to Schaffner.

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