Friday was Towson University’s official 150th birthday, and frankly, we’re pretty spry for our age.
The occasion brought an energetic celebration in Annapolis. The TU community marked this special Founder’s Day with lawmakers, who took time at the busy beginning of the 2016 General Assembly to recognize how Towson University has changed, grown, and contributed to Maryland since its birth on January 15, 1866.
Energy buzzed in the lobby of the State House as TU students, faculty, staff, supporters and friends gathered to watch the House and Senate make joint resolutions honoring the university’s extraordinary history. Towson alumna, State Senator Kathy Klausmeier (District 8) shared in the Senate chamber the evolution that brought Towson University to where it is today. Delegate Pat Young ’10 (District 44B) mirrored the message on the House floor, where Speaker Michael Busch invited all Towson alumni legislators to stand and be recognized. There are nine alumni serving as legislators this session; a 10th, State Senator Karen Montgomery ’57 (District 14), retired as of Jan. 1.
“It’s great to have had an opportunity to display our history here at the State House,” said TU Interim President Timothy J. L. Chandler, “and to have been recognized in both chambers for our contributions to higher education in Maryland over the last 150 years.”
The display was more than metaphorical. The Miller Senate Office Building is now home to a stately and impressive narrative history of the university, installed on a series of panels that describe how Towson became the second-largest institution in the University System of Maryland. Standing on an easel is a resolution from the United States Senate acknowledging Towson’s long and storied journey toward what it is today.
USM Chancellor and former TU President Robert L. Caret joined in the celebration, telling the crowd how proud he is Towson is a major force in Maryland’s economy, developing an educated citizenry that’s committed to growth and prosperity in the state.
Although he oversees the entire USM, Caret still says “we” when he talks about Towson—a fact more than one person in the crowd noted. Acknowledging his current position means he has to be careful, Caret allowed for a moment of preferential treatment.
“I’ll say it today,” Caret declared. “Towson University is my favorite university.”
From its beginnings as a tiny teachers’ college in downtown Baltimore, Towson University has become a powerhouse for the state, with more than 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in more than 100 programs. Boasting 150,000 alumni, Towson today employs about 3,600 Marylanders directly.
But this Founder’s Day wasn’t just about how Towson University has benefited Maryland. This Founder’s Day was about a special kind of pride.
“Being from NJ, I always feel so blessed to call Towson University my second home,” said one student on Twitter.
“I’m so proud to call Towson my home away from home and so excited to see what the next 150 holds!” tweeted another.
One alumnus sent birthday wishes all the way from Sweden.
The exciting anniversary celebration continues throughout the academic year, and there’s a particular momentum as Dr. Kim E. Schatzel prepares to become Towson’s newest president when classes resume on Jan. 25. It’s a momentum Chandler believes will carry the common Towson vision forward.
“We remind ourselves to reach higher, to strive for more, to keep moving forward, because we are the next 150 years,” he said.
The display in the Miller Senate Office Building will remain open to the public until June.