Archives and Special Collections
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Collection Overview

Historical Note


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Title: Centennial Office records
Dates:1990–1998 (bulk 1992–1997)
Call Number:A36

Historical Note

In 1992 President John A. Curry began planning for a celebration to commemorate the first class meeting on October 3, 1898 of the institution that became Northeastern University.  He appointed Barbara Burke, assistant director of University Relations and former executive assistant to President Kenneth G. Ryder, as the director of the Centennial Celebration, and history department chair, Professor William M. Fowler, Jr. as the chair of the Centennial Committee.  Reporting first to President Curry and later to President Richard M. Freeland (1996), Burke and Fowler worked together to coordinate the 18 working and advisory committees that would plan and implement Centennial Celebration.     

Barbara Burke retired from Northeastern University and her post as Centennial Director in May 1997.  That same month, Suzanne Leidel of the Conference and Events Planning Office became the director of the celebration.  Fowler resigned as chair of the Centennial Committee in 1997 when he left Northeastern. He presided over his last meeting as Centennial Committee Chair in January 1998.

Beginning with the Convocation (Opening Day) on October 15, 1997 and ending with the Closing Day Celebration on October 3, 1998, Northeastern celebrated its Centennial Year.  Each month during that year, a different Northeastern University college sponsored Centennial events.  The Centennial Office worked with the Office of Development to sell commemorative bricks for the Centennial Path, and a Centennial exhibit was displayed in the Curry Student Center.  Northeastern University Magazine published a series of historical essays about the University, which were later published in 1998 in a Centennial book, Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Northeastern University's First Century, edited by Linda Smith Rhoads.  And in October 1998, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postcard featuring Kerr Hall.


The Centennial Celebration was coordinated by the Centennial Committee which worked directly with the Honorary Committee.  Both reported directly to the President.  The Steering Committee, headed by William M. Fowler, Jr., oversaw the activities of the remaining working committees: Athletics, Centennial Path, Closing Celebration, Community/Government Relations, Convocations, Cultural Activities, Exhibits, Honors, Memorabilia, Oral History, Physical Plant, Public Relations, Publications, and Technology; and the advisory committees: Administrator/Staff, Alumni, Faculty, and Student.  The Steering Committee reported to the Centennial Committee.


The Honors Committee was charged with outlining criteria and selecting recipients for special Centennial awards.  It was active for three years, but no awards were presented.


The One Hundred Fund was administered by the Faculty Advisory Committee which was chaired by Harvey Vetstein of University College.  The Faculty Advisory Committee reviewed proposals and made recommendations to the Steering Committee for One Hundred Fund grants that were to "be used to encourage the planning and implementing of selected projects, events, and other University activities that will be completed during the Centennial celebration" (One Hundred Fund Correspondence, 1993–1998, Box 3).  Planning grants were not to exceed $1,000 and were awarded in January and July 1995, 1996, and 1997.  Implementation grants, with a maximum award of $5,000, were awarded in July 1995, January and July 1996 and 1997, and January 1998.

The Publications Committee oversaw the publication of the Centennial Book and Centennial Calendar.  The Convocations Committee was charged with planning the Opening Day, which included a Boston Pops Concert at Matthews Arena with special guest Shirley Jones. 
1992President Curry names Barbara Burke as the director of the Centennial Celebration.
1993Barbara Burke begins working with William M. Fowler, Jr., chair of the Centennial Committee.
1994Centennial committees begin to hold regular meetings.
1995First One Hundred Fund grants awarded.
1996Centennial Path Campaign begins.
Jan 1997President Richard M. Freeland inaugurated.
Feb 1997100th birthday celebration for Professor Emeritus Alfred J. Ferretti.
Mar 1997Deadline for Centennial Honors Awards nominations.
Spring 1997

Sale of Centennial Calendar begins. First brick laid in Centennial Path.

May 1997 Barbara Burke retires from Centennial Office and Northeastern University. Suzanne Leidel becomes director of Centennial Celebration.
Oct 1997 Centennial Convocation held on October 15, marking the beginning of Centennial Homecoming Week. Boston Pops Concert at Matthews Arena with special guest Shirley Jones held on October 15. Centennial Exhibit opens in Curry Student Center atrium. College of Arts and Sciences Centennial month.
Nov 1997Bouvé‚ College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, College of Engineering, and College of Computer Science Centennial month.
Jan 1998Fowler's last meeting as chair of the Centennial Committee.
Mar 1998Division of Cooperative Education Centennial month.
Apr 1998 College of Business Administration Centennial month. Centennial Campaign Victory Celebration held by Office of Development. Centennial Concert held at Jordan Hall.
May 1998College of Criminal Justice Centennial month.
Sep 1998School of Law Centennial month.
Oct 1998 Kerr Hall postcard issued by US Postal Service. Closing Day celebration held on October 3.