January 14, 2009
Dear Friend of Idaho State University:
As I was walking across the Quad this week, I dropped by the Earl R. Pond Student Union.
The place was abuzz with activity. Students were back from winter break, registering for spring classes, buying books or grabbing a quick bite to eat.
For 50 years, the Pond Student Union has been a focal point of campus and community activity, enriching the lives of thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.
When the Pond Student Union opened its doors in January 1959, the 58,000 square foot building featured a grand ballroom, billiards room and bowling alley. The college yearbook, "Wickiup," described the new building as "a student's delight… with comfortable lounges, color television and stereophonic music."
Today, the building has grown to 180,000 square feet and features diverse programs and services, including the award-winning Outdoor Adventure Center, Students' Community Service Center, food service facilities, retail space and hosts numerous national and international conferences.
To commemorate the building's half-century mark, Idaho State Student Unions will host the 50th Anniversary Celebration Jan. 26-31 with a full slate of activities, including campus tours, a gala dinner and a dance featuring music from each decade. These events will provide an opportunity to revisit memories and share in the legacy of a campus cornerstone.
We're looking forward to another important event this month—the ISU 2009 Human Rights Celebration, beginning Jan. 17. It'll feature keynote speaker and human rights activist Nontombi Naomi Tutu, the daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Her lecture is free to the public, and we are honored to have her on our campus.
An internationally recognized speaker and consultant on gender, race and international relations, Tutu will speak on "Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground" at 7 p.m., Jan. 22, in the Pond Student Union Wood River Room.
As chairperson of the Tutu Foundation from 1985 until 1990, she helped South African refugees in African countries get scholarships to learn skills that would make them self-supporting while in exile, as well as prepare them for constructive roles in the free South Africa.
Other events during Human Rights Celebration week include panel discussions, films, and a community march Jan. 19 to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
These kinds of celebrations are important at ISU, and I hope you can attend some or all of the events. They allow us to reconnect with the past and inspire us to shape the future.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University