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Contact university relations for even more information about Founders Day and other Celebrate 150 events by calling 785.670.1154.

University relations

It all started February 6, 1865

Founders Day is when Washburn University celebrates its long and storied past. From its founding on the heels of the Civil War to the 1966 tornado to the 21st century institution it is today, Washburn University is resilient, determined, well-established and standing the test of time.

In recognition of the importance of the past and the future, we celebrate the founding of Washburn University on Feb. 6 (or a date close to Feb. 6, if it falls on a weekend).

Washburn was founded as Lincoln College, a private Congregational school, on Feb. 6, 1865. Since few young people had a high school education at that time, the founders decided to offer a three year high school curriculum in addition to the college curriculum. Classes began January 3, 1866 with 38 high school students enrolled, including one African-American. The stage was set and the first two college students enrolled in Lincoln College in the fall of 1866.

The economy right after the Civil War was not conducive to raising money, so the fledgling college struggled to keep its doors open. The Board appointed Rev. Horatio Q. Butterfield, professor, Latin and Greek, to be its field agent (fundraiser) in order to solicit money to help with expenses and to create an endowment to put the college on a more secure financial footing.

In the fall of 1868, Rev. Butterfield traveled to New England, home of many Congregational churches. Someone recommended that he visit Ichabod Washburn, of Worcester, Mass., a wealthy and philanthropic businessman who made his fortune in the wire industry. Washburn had retired by 1868 and was not in good health, but upon hearing about the college in Kansas that was educating women and African Americans, causes that he supported, he pledged $25,000. In gratitude for this pledge, the Board of Trustees voted on November 19, 1868 to change the school’s name to Washburn College.

Celebrating 149 years

Founders Day 2014 brings special events and deals to campus.

Free Cupcakes

11:30 a.m. Free cupcakes, while supplies last, main level, Memorial Union.

Ichabod Shop

  • Autobiography of Ichabod Washburn” - Reg. $18.50 on sale for $14.90
  • Clearance books (priced at $3.50 or more) - $1.49 off
  • Ichabod Bling lapel pin - Reg. $9.99 on sale for $4.90
  • Magazines - $1.49 off
  • Soda and regular sized candy bar - $1.49
  • 150th ornament - Reg. $24 on sale for $14.90
  • Free Washburn 150 Celebration window cling with any purchase (while supplies last)
    (Tax is not included in prices listed. Offers are good Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 and cannot be combined with other offers or coupons.)

Lincoln Lecture Series - featuring John Stauffer

John Stauffer portriat7 p.m., Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center
Free and open to the public

John Stauffer, a leading authority on antislavery, social protest movements and interracial friendship, will present “Giants: The Parallel Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.”

Stauffer is a professor of English, American literature and African American studies and the chairman of the History of American Civilization program at Harvard University. He has authored eight books including “The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race” and “Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln,” which both won numerous awards. His essays have appeared in Time, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, Raritan and the New York Sun. Stauffer has appeared on national radio and television shows and has lectured widely throughout the United States and Europe.

Stauffer received a doctorate from Yale University in 1999 and won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for the best dissertation in American studies. He began teaching at Harvard the same year and leads courses on protest literature, southern literature, Douglass and Melville, the Civil War, autobiography, the nineteenth-century novel and historical fiction. He was raised in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and now resides in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their sons Erik and Nicholas.

WIN with Five Days of Washburn Swag

WHAT: A five-day contest to celebrate Washburn University Founders Day. From Monday, Feb. 3 through Friday, Feb. 7 you can win a Washburn swag bag (one winner per day). One bag will contain a Kindle eReader.
WHO: Anyone
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 through Friday, Feb. 7, 2014
HOW: It’s simple! E-mail celebrate150@washburn.edu and answer one of the questions below.
Increase your chances of winning by e-mailing an answer to one of the questions each day, without duplicating a question/answer. The repetition of a single answer will not be accepted and those who participate in that fashion will not be eligible to win.
Have you met someone on campus who has truly changed your life and how?
How has Washburn changed your life?
What do you love most about Washburn?
What is the most rewarding class you have taken at Washburn and why?
What is your favorite building or structure on campus and why?
What is your favorite Washburn memory?
Who was your favorite Washburn professor and why?
Winners will be randomly selected. There will be one winner per day. Winners will be contacted by
e-mail the day of selection. All entries become property of Washburn University and may be reused.

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