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photo by Stacy Galanis

AU Holds Centennial Celebration Honoring the Past and Informing The Future

By Stacy Galanis

photo by Stacy Galanis

Aurora, Ill. – April 3, 2012 marks the 100 years since the University has moved from Mendota, Illinois to Aurora.

To honor this historic event, many celebrations have and will continue to take place in order to inform students, staff and the public of how exactly Aurora University came to be Aurora University.

In her speech to introduce the first event of the night, President of Aurora University, Dr. Rebecca Sherrick called us “the lucky generation” that gets to experience this.

As the first event of the night, Dr. Susan L. Palmer, Professor Emerita of History, lectured an audience in Crimi Auditorium on how this historic event took place in her presentation, Journey of a Lifetime: The Rocky Road from Mendota to Aurora.

Palmer’s story held so much passion and magic that it seemed to be more than just a simple history lesson, but something truly out of a fairytale.

And, while adding humor to her speech, Palmer was still able to convey the importance of this event to many of her audience members.

“It was informative and a great way to understand where Aurora University came from and how it got started,” Renee Emma and Laura Long of the AU Education Department said.

Being an alumnus of AU, Cal Myers agreed and explained why this event was truly important to him.

“The University has been a significant part of my life; a significant portion of my energy,” he said. “It’s inspiring.”

Though many saw this event as a way to learn about the past, it was much more than that; it was a way to learn from the past in order to better the future.

“Any endeavor we have in life; to be fully informed, makes it a richer experience,” Chris Johns, member of the AU Board of Trustees, said.

She also went on to say that learning about our history enhances and gives depth to whatever you’re doing.

For Palmer, history is enjoyable because it helps uncover the how and why things got started.

“I’ve had so much fun digging into our history and seeing how we have evolved and why we are,” she said. “It’s really been great fun and I love sharing it…One of the main reasons I love history is because it goes to the source of things, it goes to the origin. It helps us understand who we are, where we come from and why is this place the way it is; there are reasons for that. How did we survive the Great Depression? How did we go from this tiny struggling denominational college to what we have today? That’s super important to understand and it makes our lives much richer to understand it.”

Another reason for the importance of this event resides in the fact that while many were informed on how AU got its start, it seems that that is no longer the case.

“We’re now at a stage in our development where a lot of people who work here don’t know these things,” Palmer added. “There was a time when there was a common understanding where people tended to know about it and those days are gone now…It’s always important to know [about our history]. This is an institution that is going to mold you and change your life and I think it’s critically important to know [about its history].”

The event was also a way to display how past can not only be a way to better guide our future, but also a way to understand each other.

“It’s like you want to know about your hometown. In a way, you’re college becomes a home you can come back to and if everything works during your years on campus; it’s like a second family and we want you to have that natural curiosity about [it],” Sherrick said.

Though many people of different professions, ideas and values were all in attendance, it seemed, for that sole period of time; they were all connected to the history presented in the lecture.

“In a way, our story becomes part of your story and your story becomes a part of our story…Your story meets our story and that’s kind of where the magic begins,” Sherrick added. “Each new student brings new life to the University and you may not even know how [important] you are but when we meet each other at orientation, that’s really the beginning of that.”

“It’s a big deal; we’re trying to become a part of each other,” she added.