Founders day celebrates USU’s 123rd birthday

Tony Kinninger might be busy being the CEO of Ansonia Credit Data, on the board of governors for the International Community Foundation, and protecting fragile ecosystems in his spare time, but for one weekend the USU alumnus will come back to his roots in Logan to relive one of his favorite past times: eating a burger at the White Owl.

After flying in from California, Mary Bold, founder of the San Fransisco based company Inline Plans, Inc., might glance toward the Logan Canyon, one of her favorite places, and think of the years she spent at USU.

Janice Dee, a member of the Old Main President’s Circle and an active contributor to the Art Center Board in Ogden might visit the stomping grounds of her former sorority, Chi Omega.

However, after reminiscing these USU Alumni will come together at the March 4 Founders Day celebration to acknowledge USU’s 123rd birthday.  Kinninger, Bold, and Dee, among others, will receive some of the highest awards USU offers.

Kinninger, along with Don Wang, will be recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards. The award, given to those who have brought recognition to the university through there their careers their service to the community, said Executive Alumni Director Patty Halaufia, is the highest award USU gives,

Mark and Mary Bold, Janice Dee, and Lay and Judy Toolson will be recipients of Distinguished Service Awards. Halaufia said the award, is given in recognition exemplary service in the community and the world.

The one-night event, which includes a reception, dinner and dessert reception, will include an address from President Albrecht on the state of the university and will be MCd by Amanda Butterfield, a  former KSL host and ‘99 alumna, Halaufia said. Brandon Lee, a piano major, and Jett Fesler, a guitar major will both provide music. The women’s choir will also preform.

“We really like to showcase our student talent,” Halaufia said.

According to USU’s Centennial book, Founders Day was first recognized in 1912, and the first official celebration was in 1925. Halaufia called the day a “birthday celebration” of the school. She said while the event is mainly focused on alumni, in past years there has been a separate party so current students can recognize their school as well.

Mary Bold, class of ‘69, said Utah State gave her a chance few other places would have given a woman at the time and eventually helped train her for the business world. Bold was the sole woman to graduate with a degree in economics in her class.

“The seeds planted in college I felt like I could do anything I wanted,” she said. “I never felt as though I was treated as a student female. Women were discouraged from doing lots of things (then).”

Bold said because the college wasn’t extremely large, she often got one-on-one time with professors. She said she also spent a portion of her college life working in the international office, so she got to know people from all walks of life.

“The teachers were very willing to give the time to someone who was willing to work hard,” she said. “I got to see things coming in from all around the world.”

Cecile Gilmer, director of university events, said USU is a unique campus. Gilmer, who attended the University of Texas at Austin, had more than 48,000 students to compete with, 3000 of them in her dorm.

“You get so much more exposure and guidance here from professors and faculty that you would not get at a massive institution,” she said.

Halaufia said she has lived a majority of her life right on campus. After meeting her husband at USU, she graduated and started working on-campus. Her family is now in their third generation of Aggies.

“Ever since I came to campus, my life has revolved around the university,” she said. “My kids have been raised here on campus going to games from when they were newborns in my arms. My grandson came home from the hospital in his aggiewear.”

One of the most unique aspects of USU, Halaufia said, is that it’s a not just a part-time experience.

“You’re here in the evenings, around during the weekends,” she said. “It makes it a complete experience. You’re not just leaving home and living with parents, driving to campus, and then leaving to work and going back home.”

In the end, what sets USU apart is not just the programs or the campus, Halaufia said, it is the connections that are made that last a lifetime.

“Utah State has a heart, it has soul. There’s a real feeling of people care here,” she said. “There’s that personal touch. Those personal relationships are what drives Utah State.”

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