Southern Utah University celebrates founders with free public events

"Back up the Mountain" logo | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University

CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University is celebrating 119 years of higher education all week long with their age-old affair Founders Celebration, a series of events created to celebrate the university’s birthday by remembering founders both new and old.

“I don’t think there’s another university in the country that has a founding quite like ours,” said Ron Cardon, Southern Utah University alumni director. “It’s such a dramatic story and such an inspirational story.


Founder’s celebration is a chance to remember the story of how it all began, while recognizing “modern day founders” who make a big difference in the growth and development of the institution as well, he said.

“In the history of the university there have always been people that have stepped up to help make programs possible, to help make buildings possible, for scholarships — you name it,” Cardon said, explaining these are the people that the university looks to as modern founders.

The story of the university’s founding was so inspirational that a 2015 documentary “Back up the Mountain” about the school’s founding was produced and launched for all of the public to access.

An excerpt from a poem by Fae Decker Dix on the Founders Celebration website offers insight into the daunting task of building the university:

With stubborn trust, and unflinching faith,

They toiled and they labored from dawn to dark,

In the barren fields and the frozen hills

By dint of hard labor they left their mark.

The Founders Celebration has been around since the beginning of Southern Utah University in some form or another, Cardon said. It all began when Branch Agricultural College commenced their first semester in the fall of 1897, but Cardon said the spring celebration can be attributed to the first committees who petitioned the state to become a university in the spring of that year.

This year’s activities began Monday with the lecture “Founders to Future,” which delved into some of the rich history of the university’s founding. There will be more activities through the week to highlight the celebration. All events are open to the public.

Schedule of events:

Tuesday, March 22

  • What: Lunch on the Main | Founders stories and lunch
  • When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Where: Multiple locations on Southern Utah University campuse, including Library Plaza, Library Garden Level, the Centrum, Founders Monument (Old Sorrel), Old Main and the Sharwan Smith Center.
  • What: Veterans Resource and Support Center reopening
  • When: 4 p.m.
  • Where: Sharwan Smith Center Rotunda

Wednesday, March 23

Thursday, March 24

  • What: Founders Reception, a public meet and greet event before the awards dinner to honor the “modern day founders” of Southern Utah University
  • When: 6 p.m.
  • Where: Southern Utah University | Hunter Conference Center
  • What: Founders Dinner & Awards | Sold out
  • When: 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Southern Utah University | Gilbert Great Hall

Modern Founder honorees:

Distinguished Service Awards: Zion National Park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh, SUU emeritus art faculty member Arlene Braithwaite, community volunteer Cindy Line

Citations: “Back Up the Mountain” producer, writer and director Jon Smith and editor Lee Byers

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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