By Casey Gale
This year will bustle with excitement as Rider celebrates its sesquicentennial, or, more simply put, its 150th anniversary. Rider plans to celebrate with a long and growing list of events throughout the school year. No time is being wasted. The celebration starts now.
Rider will begin to honor 150 years of teaching, learning, and success with a kickoff celebration on the morning of Sept. 16. Students will find a welcome tent in front of the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC). That same day the fun will truly begin at Cranberry Fest, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Campus Green.
Special events and projects manager Beverly Braddock is excited to share the university’s plans for the kickoff, which have been years in the making.
“We’re really looking at the kickoff as a way to promote awareness about the 150th, because a lot of us have been on planning committees and have been living the sesquicentennial for almost two years already, but for the general campus community, when they come back it’s going to be their first time seeing it.”
Braddock said the 150th anniversary branding will bring a special celebratory mood to otherwise typical events.
“We have Cranberry Fest every year anyway, but the menu has changed this year to be more of an upscale barbeque, whereas last year it was just subs and finger-foods. The band will still be here, but there will be some other surprises too. I’m not going to give that away,” she teased.
Following the daytime festivities, the celebration will move to the BLC Theater at 5 p.m., where historian and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will present a speech focused on lessons of leadership that can be learned from Abraham Lincoln, whose presidency ended as Rider began. Her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, was the basis of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.
An expert on iconic American presidents, Goodwin is the author of six books. She analyzed the ins and outs of Lyndon Johnson and how Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt shaped America.
This event is free and open to the public. Students and the community can visit www.rider.edu/DKG to reserve a seat.
The festivities are only beginning on Sept. 16. Throughout the year, Rider will host guest speakers such as WWE star Darren Young, hold events like the College of Business Administration’s 150th Celebration Benefit Gala at TPC Jasna Polana, and feature 150 Westminster Choir College performances that have been specially planned to celebrate the anniversary. Additionally, Medals of Excellence will be awarded to members of the Rider community who have brought honor to the school. Medals will be awarded to respected individuals throughout the year at events relevant to their achievement.
“Whatever their affinity is with the campus, we want to present it to them in a group that knows them, which makes it more meaningful,” Braddock explained.
According to Braddock, Rider’s history and development deserves the honor of a yearlong birthday bash.
“It’s a huge accomplishment that an institution can have such a great reputation and carry it for so many years,” she said. “There’s been so much growth and change from where it started as a small business school in Trenton. I think that’s what intrigues me. I like to see how it changed.
“You think of all of the national news over the decades, it was happening here too. I think it’s really nice to kind of step back and take a look at the past and how far we’ve come and then relate that to the future and what opportunities still hold,” she said.
Nick Lim, a senior history major, helped research Rider’s history and plan the festivities as a student representative. Lim said he was excited by what he learned about Rider through research.
“The one thing that impressed me about the school’s past was its growth through the merger with the Stewart Business College in 1901,” he said. “I think it’s important to celebrate the school’s anniversary because it allows the student body and faculty to reflect and learn about Rider’s rich history. It also shows how far Rider has come as an institution.”
As a history major, Lim was happy to pratically apply his studies to real life.
“I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment to have taken part in planning for a huge year for events, because it allows me to give back to the Rider community. It also allows me to utilize the skills that I have learned in the classroom and outside the classroom,” said Lim.
Braddock said that the student volunteers are welcome to help with the events, and can contact her for more information.
Additional reporting by Sarah Bergen