While it will wait and not begin the actual celebration until most of the students return in the fall, the university is announcing their plans.
The week of events, beginning Sept. 25, will include various lectures by SSU professors and guest speakers, planetarium shows, greenhouse tours, a student and faculty art show, mini-zoo tours and e-mail trivia. There will be a 1980s themed dance on Friday of that week for students, and FallFest, SSU's annual fall concert will be during that week as well.
Student Activities will announce the entertainment for FallFest later along with ticket information.
In 1971, Scioto Technical College opened eight miles north of Portsmouth as part of a three-building vocational/technical education complex. The establishment of the technical college had prompted discussions between OU-Portsmouth and STC.
In 1975, after the two merged, the institution became known as Shawnee State General and Technical College, and later became Shawnee State Community College.
It was in April of 1986 when then-Governor Richard Celeste signed the documents that changed Shawnee State Community College to Shawnee State University. Then on July 2, House Bill 739 became law, creating university status.
The process to convert the institution to a university was spearheaded by then-Speaker of the House Vern Riffe and the arts center at the university now bears his name.
In a Portsmouth Daily Times article dated April 1, 1986, it was noted that Riffe was at the school that Monday afternoon to affix his signature to a bill which would make the community college a university. There he spent the day talking with students.
“This is a very proud day for me,” said Riffe. “I just felt good about that. They're the reason we're here today ... to give young people an opportunity.”
Dr. George F. White was chairman of the Board of Trustees and Frank D. Hyland, vice chairman. Other members of the Board were Dr. Raymond Carson, Orville Ferguson Sr., Victor Morgan, G.R. Piatt, William Reinhardt, Verna K. Riffe and Kenneth Thompson.
“I am pleased to have been the person who made the motion to become a four-year university,” said White. “The transition was very exciting, very upbeat. We went through all the normal experiences that come with growth, but the main players involved were all very positive.”
White said that he is proud of the progress that has been made at SSU.
“It's been outstanding. It staggers the mind to see what it is now compared to what it was 20 years ago,” he said. “It's great that students in our area have access to this great university. ”
White also offered his personal observations on the atmosphere of the campus.
“I think what is most impressive is the politeness of the students there and how they dress so appropriately.”
White, who said he has taken some computer courses at SSU, said that he loves to visit the campus.
The first classes at SSU in the current location were conducted at Massie Hall and since becoming a university, steady growth has marked their operations.
SSU always has celebrated Founder's Day, “But since this year is such an important anniversary we are going to have a week of activities,” said Susan Warsaw, executive director of development. “We are also going to dedicate the newly renovated Allied Health Sciences Building during this week.”
Kathleen Battle, a five-time Grammy award-winning soprano, will be performing in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts as part of the anniversary activities. Tickets for the show will be available at the McKinley Box Office.
SSU has developed a new logo in honor of the anniversary.
“The new logo demonstrates the great pride we at SSU feel for having reached the 20-year milestone, and shows how excited we are to celebrate our anniversary with the community,” said SSU President Rita Rice Morris. “The 20th anniversary logo includes the phrase, ‘Honoring Our Past-Poised For Tomorrow' because we are proud of our accomplishments over the last two decades. We look forward to even greater achievements in the future.”
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232