Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman speaks Thursday during the unveiling and dedication ceremony of the new sculpture, Huskie Pride, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Commons.
Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman speaks Thursday during the unveiling and dedication ceremony of the new sculpture, Huskie Pride, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Commons.

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University will celebrate its 125th birthday this year.

Festivities are planned for the duration of 2020, according to an NIU news release, with a kick-off celebration set for 3 to 5 p.m. on the lower and newly remodeled level of the Holmes Student Center on campus Thursday, Jan. 30. Events will celebrate the university's long history and look to the future, too.

“You cannot chart a course for the future without understanding the past,” NIU President Lisa Freeman said in the release. “We are going to use this anniversary as an opportunity to not only look back and reflect but also as an opportunity to embrace our present and to help chart our path forward.”

Other events planned throughout the year include:

Tuesday, Feb. 4. NIU will unveil the exhibition, “Becoming Huskies,” at the Founders Memorial Library, which will highlight the transitions, traditions and moments that have defined the growth and identity of the university throughout its history, the release states.

In March, a dramatized lecture, “Women at Northern: The First Twenty-five Years,” will examine the contributions of some of the female pioneers at the Northern Illinois State Normal School.

In May, the exhibition, “Crimson Days,” will open at the Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb, and a companion lecture, “Constructing the Castle,” will be held on campus. Both will highlight the contributions of the individuals behind the founding of the Northern Illinois State Normal School, the release states.

In July, an environmental art installation, “River Weaving,” will illuminate the surprising role played by the Kishwaukee River in the selection of DeKalb as home to the normal school.

In November, the Avalon String Quartet will debut “Seven Ages of Man,” a piece commissioned for the anniversary celebration.

Throughout the year, there will also be proclamations and receptions at university conference centers expects around the region, and a week of events planned in Chicago.

A complete list of the planned happenings can be found by searching “125th Anniversary” on the NIU all-university calendar at www.calendar.niu.edu.

NIU also will publish a chronological list of “125 Key Moments” in NIU history. The series of milestones will be presented online in monthly increments. A new interactive map also will be posted on the university website to illustrate how the footprint of the campus has grown and changed over time, and an oral history featuring the memories of Huskies past and present will be released later this year.

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