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IU officially begins bicentennial celebrations across campuses


Sunshine illuminates the Sample Gates on June 28 on the IU-Bloomington campus. IU"s Bicentennial began Monday at the start of the 2020 fiscal year. Alex Deryn

In offices across IU campuses, crimson boxes began appearingover the last few weeks. Stickers on the tops told receivers not to open the boxes until July 1.

When the day arrived, recipients opened the boxes to find promotional merch, such as stickers, water bottles and tote bags sporting the IU Bicentennial logo. The boxes were part of the kickoff for IU’s Bicentennial, which began Monday.

IU was founded in 1820. July 1 is the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year and marks the start of the university's 200th year of operation.

In order to promote attention for the upcoming bicentennial events, the Office of the Bicentennial has planned promotional events, such as setting up banners reading "200 Years" around each IU campus and awarding a new Bicentennial Medal. 

“It’s really about awareness and trying to build up some excitement for it,” said university spokesperson Chuck Carney.

IU will spend $3.1 million in funding collected between 2016-2021 across all IU campuses, Carney said. Besides funding celebrations, the money will also pay for over 200 student interns and bicentennial research.

Bicentennial events are scheduled throughout the fall and spring semesters, such as the Higher Education Symposium in Bloomington, historical marker dedication for the Seiberling Mansion in Kokomo and a stand-up performance by Trevor Noah, the Emmy Award-winning host of "The Daily Show." 

The 200 Festival will take place across multiple campuses in late September. IU-Bloomington events will include academic presentations, a men's soccer game and a Union Board show.

The first event to celebrate the bicentennial will take place Monday night at IU- South Bend. Students, faculty and alumni will receive a discount for tickets for the South Bend Cubs game at Four Winds Field. IUSB chancellor Susan Elrod will throw the first pitch of the game, according to the bicentennial website. 

On June 28, Governor Eric Holcomb was awarded the official Bicentennial Medal, which is given to people who have served the university and the honors associations affiliated with it.

“The Bicentennial Medal also recognizes those who are models for future students, faculty, alumni and organizations to emulate as IU prepares for its third century,” according to a press release.  

IU used years of polling and public outreach to identify what people wanted to see from the bicentennial, said Jeremy Hackard, project manager for the Office of the Bicentennial.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity on social media right now,” Hackard said. “We’re hoping people will come out and participate, especially with the big marquee events.”

The Office of the Bicentennial has been planning these events since January 2016, Hackard said. After the bicentennial year, the office will disperse. 

Even though the office will be gone, events such as the Higher Education Symposium and the historical markers will leave a lasting effect on IU, Carney said. 

“The bicentennial is not just about where IU has been, it’s about where IU is going,” Carney said.

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