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Idaho State University

Inaugural Founder’s Day Celebration Features Barbeque, Giant Set of Bengal Eyes

What, no celebration to mark the beginning of Idaho State University?

“When I found out ISU didn’t have a Founder’s Day Celebration I thought it was a great opportunity for our club. We ran with the idea and wanted to create an opportunity for ISU to celebrate its history, and also the things that are happening right now,” said Jessica Clements, 2015-16 president of ISU’s student alumni chapter, the 1901 Student Organization.

The 1901 Student Organization, which was formed in September 2014, teamed with the ISU Alumni Association to hold the first ISU Founder’s Day Celebration on March 11 this spring, marking the University’s 115th anniversary.  The celebration on the Hutchinson Quadrangle featured a barbeque, history tours and the announcement of the class of 2015-16’s gift to the University, a giant pair of Bengal Eyes on the Rendezvous Complex.

It was on March 11, 1901, that Senate Bill #53 was signed by the Idaho’s fifth Governor, Frank H. Hunt, ensuring the Academy of Idaho would be brought to Pocatello. The Academy of Idaho morphed into the Idaho Technical Institute in 1915, University of Idaho – Southern Branch in 1927, Idaho State College in 1947 and gained University status is 1963.

“The four main focuses of the 1901 Student Organization are improvement, tradition, history and connection,” Clements said. “The Founder’s Day celebration was a good representation of all of our goals, tying them together into one celebration.”

The initial celebration was well received. Organizers bought food for 280 people and none was leftover. The gift of the two-stories-high Bengal Eyes have also been popular, as was the video created by Martin Baker, videographer for ISU Visual Services, which documented the Bengal Eyes being put up in the windows of the center of the Rendezvous Complex. Baker spent the better part of three working days filming the installation from across the street on the top of the Oboler Library. Watch the video

“It was exciting to see how the (Bengal Eyes) project proceeded from start to finish,” said Baker. “It was incredibly windy and cold, though, I got sunburned because the sun reflected off of the white roof and I got cooked even though it was 45 degrees.”

The March 11 Founder’s Day Celebration will become an annual event. Clements said she hopes future celebrations can build on the success of the first one.

“When we put the Bengal Eyes on social media it was amazing to see how far it reached, and it was great to see how it connected people back to the University,” Clements said. “That was huge. This year, the 1901 Student Organization has made an impact on campus, and with the Bengal Eyes we’ve left a legacy for the Class of 2016 to show our appreciation for all that ISU has done for us, and also that we made a difference while we were here.”

Current students aren’t the only ones noticing the Bengal Eyes or who enjoyed the Founder’s Day Celebration.

“I think the eyes look awesome and the new celebration is great,” said Ryan Sargent, associate director of the ISU Office of Alumni Relations. “Most importantly we hope to see the 1901 Student Organization continue to organize annual class gifts and carry on this new tradition.”

There is much potential for the 1901 Student Organization.

“For the ISU Alumni Association it has been great,” Sargent said. “I know that our alums love having students around for events, and it is good for students to interact with our alumni for a variety of reasons, including mentoring purposes.”

Mark your calendar for March 11 in upcoming years.

“We hope that 1901 continues to be the facilitator for each class's legacy as we end our time as students and become Idaho State Alumni,” Clements said. “We hope that the Founder’s Day Celebration really grows and catches on. A lot of people have already bought into this event and it will only get better.”