Eastern continued its celebration of the institution’s 125th Anniversary on Nov. 18 with a luncheon event titled “History at Eastern: The Past Informs the Future.” The event included an overview of the scholarly achievements of the History Department, a history quiz, a lecture that brought attendees from Eastern’s beginnings in 1889 to the present day and a theatrical performance by the History Club.
“If anyone suggests that Eastern faculty are not active researchers and productive scholars, or that they do not make important contributions to knowledge in their disciplines, a quick look at the work of our history faculty will correct that misperception,” said Provost Rhona Free. “In addition to the abundance of their scholarship, two things are noticeable: the quality of the presses and journals that publish their work and also how their research interests vary.”
Among the history department’s active researchers are Professor Anna Kirchmann, an award-winning author on Polish American studies; Professor Jamel Ostwald, another award-winning scholar for his publications on the War of the Spanish Succession; and Professor Joan Meznar, who has published many articles about Brazilian society in top journals. In addition to faculty, students of the History Department have also been published and presented their esearch at regional and national conferences.
President Núñez followed with her own remarks. “The first history instructor on this campus was hired in 1896. There have been two university presidents that were historians,” said Núñez. “History is not just for history majors. All students should see how mankind’s march through time impacts exceeding generations. History prepares students for almost any career.”
The program concluded with a comical performance by the History Club about the murder of Julius Caesar; a quiz led by Professor David Frye; and a lecture about the history of Eastern and its partnership with Willimantic.
Also on Nov. 18 was the dedication of the time capsule as part of Eastern’s 125th anniversary, held in the Student Center Atrium. The 24” by 36” time capsule will be installed in the Fine Arts Instructional Center upon its completion, and reopened in 2039 in celebration of Eastern’s 150th anniversary. Spectators gathered to see the items that will be sealed in the time capsule.
“Why are we doing this?” asked President Elsa Núñez. “We are doing it because we are proud of Eastern and want to share who we are with the people of the future. Items in the capsule point to our institution’s commitment to academic excellence; our relationship with the Willimantic community, which has always been a strong support system; and our focus on the future — innovation is another hallmark of Eastern,” said Núñez. The audience members were given notecards to write messages to the future Eastern community. “The past 50 years have seen more technological change than in the past several thousand years. Where will we be in 2039?” asked Núñez.
Some of the items — which were donated from departments across campus — include a cell phone, a FASFA form, a mouse pad, a DVD titled “Investigating Trees” by the Child and Family Development Resource Center, a graphing calculator from the Math Department, a Warriors softball cap, an issue of the Campus Lantern (student-run newspaper), a mask from the Performing Arts Department, various books written by professors, a copy of Eastern’s strategic plan and more.