GSU celebrates 120 years during Founders Day celebration

Grambling State University will hold its Founders Day observance today through Friday and honor the historic moment in 1901 when the historically black university was founded. Traditionally GSU has held the observance beginning in September but this year’s celebration begins Nov. 1 because the date will mark 120 years of educational excellence for GSU.   

“The planning committee has developed events that honor the history of Grambling State University and convey our rich legacy to the next generation,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “We have overcome so many obstacles in the past and continue to face numerous present-day challenges. So, it’s fitting that the theme is ‘Together We Rise’ because it is our strength in unity that has fueled our journey thus far.”  

He said the Founder’s Day observance will continue to be held in November moving forward because it is imperative that the celebration be aligned with the day the institution opened its doors.  

The celebration will begin today at 8 a.m. with the tradition of laying a wreath on the bust of Charles P. Adams at Lee Hall on Grambling State’s campus. In addition to a proclamation signed by the Mayor of Grambling, a time capsule will also be buried for unearthing at the 150th anniversary in 2051.   

A 120th birthday celebration will take place immediately afterward in McCall Dining Hall and will feature the University Choir and a portion of the World Famed Tiger Marching Band.   

On Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 11 a.m., Founders Convocation will be held in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center where Dr. Dana A. Williams will serve as the speaker. When she earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Grambling State in 1993, Williams was the highest-ranking student in her graduating class. She taught briefly in the Madison Parish public school system, before moving to Washington, D.C., where she attended Howard University. She earned a master’s degree in African American literature and continued her education to earn a doctorate in English with an emphasis in African American Literature.   

Williams has served as faculty member in the departments of English at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and at Howard University. She became chair of Howard’s Department of English in 2009. In 2016, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Humanities Council and was named dean of the Graduate School at Howard in 2021.  
Williams has published extensively in African American literature as an author or editor. In addition to her book projects, she has published articles in reviews and journals.  The remainder of the week will encompass historic displays by university departments and an online campaign, #ThisIsGrambling, that will feature testimonials submitted by alumni and supporters. Those wishing to participate can send video or audio, no longer than 60 seconds in length to Commemorative shirts will be worn on Friday, Nov. 5 and can be purchased at the University Bookstore. 

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