Centennial celebration planning underway

The University’s 100th anniversary is approaching in 2015 and planning and organizing for the commemoration is already taking place.

Tech alumna Laura Clemons is the centennial coordinator in charge of planning projects for the occasion. Some projects require the two years of planning that is allotted while others are a matter of organizing and getting funding approved.

“At the moment, nothing is set in stone,” Clemons said. “There are so many good ideas. The hard part is picking.”

The main goal of the centennial events is to mark this time in the University’s history for future generations while observing the past.

One of the events planned is a retrospective art exhibition of the late Joan Derryberry’s paintings, many of which document Tech’s history. She was an instructor of music and one of the University’s past first ladies.   

“We get a picture of what we looked like from 1940 to 1974 by seeing her work,” Clemons said.

Many larger projects, like a centennial memorial, are in the earliest stages of development and have yet to be approved due to funding. This is one of the main reasons why planning for these undertakings must begin now.

Clemons said, “The idea of a public art project takes a ton of lead time to figure out where it’s going to be, how much we’re going to spend on it and deciding who will create the piece.”

The process of finding an appropriate artist to bring the idea to fruition could take months itself.

“Of all the projects, this is probably the biggest,” Clemons said. “The goal is that people won’t have to go inside a gallery to see it.”

Clemons is also editing a book with the working title “People and Places”, to explain Tech’s history in chronological order through illustration, photography, and recently recorded memoirs from the University’s past. Several faculty members will be contributing content, including Lori Shull and Michael Birdwell, professor of history.

Clemons is focused on collecting from alumni and retired faculty stories that would otherwise be forgotten.

Clemons said, “These interviews that go into these kinds of books are so important to capture.”

She said she hopes to soon have a website launched to feature some of these stories and photographs for public viewing.

“We want to commemorate the moment in time with something that is going to live on past us,” Clemons said. “Something that will hopefully be here forever.”