Founders Day: A Brief History

Founders Day traditions date back as far as 1899, when the Utah State Legislature voted to move the University of Utah to its permanent campus on Salt Lake City’s east bench. The event coincided with the University’s February 28 founding date and inspired a major celebration that continued with the school’s 50th anniversary in 1900.

In the years that followed, Founders Day was often observed earnestly, with a moment of silence and a memorial address. In 1925, the University marked its 75th anniversary with an elaborate gala, setting a more celebratory tone. By the 1950s, Founders Day had become a weeklong extravaganza, complete with a student queen, speakers, dances, oratory and writing contests, and a formal banquet.

Over time, the student body has grown immensely, and campus-wide assemblies are a thing of the past, but the essence of Founders Day remains: It is a time to celebrate the University’s place in the community and to honor its outstanding alumni and supporters.

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