Clarion University to Celebrate Founders’ Day

Darius Carrier (Provided photo)

CLARION – New President Karen Whitney will initiate a new tradition Sept. 10 with the first observance of Clarion University Founders’ Day.

The celebration begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Center for Academic Excellence, Level A, of Carlson Library and is free and open to the public.

All attending are encouraged to wear Clarion University blue and gold.

Sept. 10, 1867 is the date of the founding of Carrier Seminary, which evolved over the next 143 years into today’s Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

“It is most appropriate that we celebrate the courage and conviction which inspired the founding of this great university 143 years ago,” said Whitney. 

“As we move forward in continued service to the Commonwealth and to Northwestern Pennsylvania considering our past will help us define our future.”

According to the 125th Anniversary History of Clarion University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Samuel Farmarie, in 1865 the Erie Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was informed of the merits of establishing seminaries to further the endeavors of the church and appropriately observe its centennial.

In March 1866, a convention was held in Clarion to initiate the establishment of a seminary. By July, funds had been raised to construct a building. On March 18, 1867, the contributors met to organize a board of trustees.

The institution began operation on Sept. 10, 1867, as the Carrier Seminary of Western Pennsylvania. It was named in honor of Darius Carrier for the Carrier family contribution of what was believed to be $10,000 and lumber for construction of a new building named Seminary Hall.

Appropriately enough, Carlson Library — where the Founders’ Day celebration will be held — is located on the former site of Carrier Hall.

Financial difficulties and declining enrollment led to the sale of Carrier Seminary to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1886 and it was rechristened Clarion Normal School, one of several teacher-training institutions across Pennsylvania.

In 1929, it became Clarion State Teachers College, Clarion State College in 1960, and with the establishment of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Clarion University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

The initial Founders’ Day Celebration, which will also serve as a formal welcome for President Whitney, will begin with a prelude of the Clarion University Alma Mater and Clarion University Fight Song played on the Clarion University Bell Tower Carillon outside of Carlson Library. The carillon is designed to resemble the bell towers on the original Seminary Hall.

The program will include a welcome and introduction of guests by Jay Foster, Clarion University head football coach; remarks by Peter Garland, executive vice chancellor, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education; R. Lee James, chair, Clarion University Council of Trustees; Charles P. Leach, chair, Clarion University Foundation, Inc.; Dr. Todd J. Pfannestiel, chair, Clarion University Faculty Senate; and Benjamin W. Sturtz, president, Clarion University Student Senate; followed by a response by President Whitney.

 Whitney envisions the Founders’ Day activities increasing over the next several years leading to Clarion University’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

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