Indiana State University Newsroom

Founders Day program mixes history, present, future

January 30, 2014

Indiana State University's annual Founders Day program generally takes a look back in history, but this year's event on Wednesday, hosted by the ISU Alumni Association, also celebrated the present and looked to the future.

Founded in 1865, Indiana State Normal School opened its doors to 23 future educators in 1870 but now serves more than 12,000 students as a comprehensive university, noted Rex Kendall, Alumni Association director.

"As I look around the room, I see many familiar faces - emeriti, alumni, faculty, staff, student and friends of Indiana State. Each and every one of you has positively contributed to the success of Indiana State by continuing the legacy established by our founders," Kendall said. "Indiana State has grown, evolved and expanded to be the University of choice not only for future educators, but also accountants, pilots, nurses, artists, entrepreneurs, and more."

Randy Minas, president of the board of trustees and a 1971 Indiana State graduate, said he is proud to serve on the board of his alma mater during a period of significant growth and development.

"Enrollments are at a 40-year high, new academic programs are preparing students for high-demand fields, and Indiana State continues to fulfill an important role in providing a high-quality education at an affordable price," he said. "And don't forget, we are number one in the nation for community service."

Normal Hall, one of the oldest academic buildings on campus, which will soon be transformed into a facility dedicated to student success, was the topic of the university's 89th Founders Day program.

"Normal Hall, from the past and future, has always been a symbol of commitment to education," said Linda Maule, dean of Indiana State's University College, which will be housed in Normal Hall following a $16 million renovation set to begin this spring.

Each floor of the more than 100-year-old building will get a new look that maintains a connection to the past - the first floor will be feature high tables, 20th century chairs and preserved books.

The lower, or garden level, will house the Center for Student Success where students can go for tutoring and LEAP students and 21st Century Scholars can go for direction. On the second floor, University College and its 16 advisors will be present to engage student's needs.

"Old to new, old to new, old to new; the new founded on the values and principles of the old," Maule said.

The building will regain some of its past glories, such as a grand staircase and a stained-glass dome. The original was destroyed during a renovation decades ago.

"They weren't very delicate about it, they just pulled these panels out," said Michael Shelden, professor of English.

Each panel bore the name and likeness of an educator or philosopher, at least 24 in total, Shelden said.

"Exploring around, we found a big stack of them, we still haven't found all of them," he said.

During the upcoming renovation, the dome will be recreated as it was once before.

"Once this is finished, it will be an extraordinary moment to stand there and see this dome, which was once the pride of Indiana State Normal College and once again will be the pride of Indiana State University," Shelden said.

Built in 1910, Normal Hall served as a library until 1973 when Cunningham Memorial Library opened; it was then used to as storage and office space for art and various archives.

Founders Day celebrates Indiana State's opening and traditions, including a book and torch ceremony that incorporates two key components of the university seal.

"The book symbolizes knowledge, and the torch symbolizes the light of inspiration," said Matt Ulm, vice president of the Indiana State University Alumni Association, which sponsors the event.

With the renovation of Normal Hall, Indiana State officials hope the historic structure will help keep the light of inspiration lit.

"Normal Hall is being restored to its rightful place, at the center of campus," Maule said. "The Normal Hall of the future will be at the literal and metaphorical heart of campus. The Normal Hall of the future will be a departure point for first year students, a gathering place for all students and a point of return for alum."

University President Dan Bradley said, "It is impossible to listen to Linda and not be excited about the impact these programs and this newly renovated facility will have on our students."

Bradley noted preservationist Gayle Cook's attendance at the ceremony and recognized her assistance in planning for the reservation.

"Gayle has a tremendous amount of expertise and experience in historic preservation, and has helped connect us with the best craftsman available to restore the magnificent Normal Hall dome," Bradley said. "Thank you, Gayle for all that you have done to support historic preservation both on our campus and throughout Indiana."

Photo: - An architect's rendering of what Normal Hall, the oldest academic building on the Indiana State University campus, will look like following renovation, scheduled for completion in 2015.

Photo: - Michael Shelden, professor of English at Indiana State University, spoke about the once and future glory of Normal Hall, the university's oldest academic building, during the Founders Day program on Jan. 29, 2014. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Photo: - Speaking during Indiana State University's Founders Day program Jan. 29, 2014, Linda Maule, dean of University College at Indiana State University, talked about how a renovation to begin this spring will restore Normal Hall "to its rightful place at the center of campus." The 1910 building, the oldest academic structure on campus, will be restored to house University College and the Center for Student Success. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Writer: Dustyn Fatheree, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or