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September 05, 2008
Vol. 50 No. 1

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150 years of history celebrated

Courtesy of The Crusader/Tom Joyce
Looking back-- A Susquehanna student views two photos of a past Susquehanna baseball team and the men's track team at the gallery opening on Thursday night.
As part of Susquehanna's Sesquicentennial celebration, the Lore Degenstein Gallery is showcasing 150 years of university history in its exhibit, "Susquehanna University: A 150-Year Retrospective."

The exhibit was the idea of Marsha Lemons, wife of President L. Jay Lemons, and Jane Seaberg, associate director of communications.

The exhibit was curated by gallery director Dan Olivetti.

With the help of gallery assistants, junior Kate Smith and senior Jon Stelman, Olivetti examined thousands of photos from the Blough-Weis Library archives.

"The images were selected based on quality, historical significance [and] artistic value, [and were then] scanned at high resolution, sharpened with modern technology, expanded to 16 by 20 inches, printed, matted and framed in the gallery's own frames," Olivetti said.

Speaking at the gallery opening was Professor Emeritus of History, Dr. Donald Housley.

His speech, "Images and Artifacts of College Culture: A Search for Meaning," introduced the exhibit and provided a brief history of Susquehanna.

He said the gallery provides both a student's "short view" as well as an historian's "long view" of Susquehanna.

Housley provided background information on the exhibit and a few little-known stories of past Susquehanna traditions, including protests, hazing and rivalries between classes.

Housley said, "As a joke, members of the freshman class planned to burn in effigy a stuffed dummy of Cato Major (a Roman general), said to be a hero of the sophomore class."

"Sophomores responded by grabbing two male members of the freshman class, tying them up, blindfolding them, carrying them six miles into the country and finally releasing them to find their way back to the campus," Housley said.

"Sometime thereafter, sophomores also removed all of the chapel chairs and desks manned by freshmen, forcing them to stand," he added.

Among some of the biggest conversation pieces was the showcase of artifacts recovered from Gustavus Adolphus Hall, more commonly referred to as GA Hall, a residence hall and campus center that was located between Selinsgrove Hall and Bogar Hall before it burned down in 1964.

Additionally, visitors can view letterman jackets, books, photos, letters and playbills, all illustrating Susquehanna's colorful past.

"It's interesting to see how the campus has changed over the years. It's very transient; people are always looking for something new and better," said Theresa Beckhusen, a sophomore who attended the opening.

The oldest artifacts in the exhibit are letters regarding the Lutheran Missionary Institute dating back to 1858.

The newest photograph on display is of the Susquehanna faculty, which was taken the week before the semester began.

"The scope of the project is immense when you think about it. It was difficult because there weren't pictures available for everything that's happened at Susquehanna," Olivetti said.

He added: "In some ways we were limited by the pictures that were taken, saved and archived, and we had limited space in the gallery as well. There were many worthy photographs that we were not able to include in the show, but the ones we did include are fabulous, in my opinion."

"The Susquehanna Sesquicentennial is really an important opportunity to remember and reflect on all that has happened the past 150 years," President Lemons said.

"I hope the exhibit and activities are a chance for students to become more familiar with the rich history of the university and the culture and character that they too will become important shapers of," Lemons added.

The exhibit will be on display through October 4, and the gallery is open daily from noon until 4 p.m.


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