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Sue's Views: Founders Weekend offers chance to honor past, look to a bright future

There's a party going on next weekend and you should really plan to attend.

The University of Minnesota, Morris is celebrating Founders Weekend Sept. 25-26.

This year marks UMM's 50th year and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the West Central School of Agriculture.

The Founders Weekend schedule of events has a little pomp, a little circumstance, and little bit of kicking up your heels.

The pomp is the official dedication for the Welcome Center and Robert B. DeWall Memorial Courtyard, complete with speeches and dignitaries. This will be held Sunday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.

For circumstance, there's the premiere of a documentary about UMM, "Promise of the Prairie, " which I have no doubt will be better than anything on TV that day. Plan to be in Edson Auditorium at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.

As for the kicking up your heels, there's a dance on the mall. Four bands, including Monroe Crossing and Johnny Holm, will be performing starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, on the mall.

There is also a community meal on the mall on Sunday, other programs and tours of the campus. Look elsewhere in this issue for a complete schedule of events or check out the celebration Web site, for all the details and photos from throughout the campus' history.

I hope that you can attend at least one of the events and join in the celebration. Maybe you, like me, graduated from UMM. Maybe you work there, or someone in your family does. Maybe you just attend the Performing Arts Series and have no other connection to the campus. You still need to recognize that just by living here, you have a relationship with the students, faculty, staff and campus.

There have been times over the past 50 years when it hasn't been an easy relationship between the community and campus. I'll be the first to admit that it's a mixed blessing to have a public liberal arts institution in a conservative, rural community in western Minnesota.

Certainly, the group of civic leaders who first proposed the transformation of an agricultural boarding high school to a public liberal arts college couldn't have even speculated as to whether the institution would be here in 50 years, much less how well things have turned out.

Much has changed both in Morris and at UMM over the years. But what has remained is the notion that education is important and the opportunity to learn exists right here. There's no doubt that the community and the campus have learned from each other throughout the years and we're all better off for the experience. Founders Weekend is an opportunity to pause and appreciate the innovation and courage that helped shape the purpose and reputation of our Morris campus.

So let's take a moment to recognize the work of those who founded the University of Minnesota, Morris as well as those institutions that came before it and ponder what the future might bring.