Ottawa University celebrated the 148th anniversary of its official 1865 founding Sunday with Charter Day events.

A wonderful concert by the university’s concert choir, orchestra and band capped a busy weekend highlighted by the theater department’s production of “The Odd Couple,” two baseball and two softball games, a tennis team match and the annual spring football scrimmage.

Dr. Steven McDonald, OU orchestra director and faculty member, took time during the concert to recognize Alice Joy Lewis for 48 years of exemplary leadership of the Ottawa Suzuki Strings music programs and her inestimable contributions to the cultural life of Ottawa University and our community. What an inspiration she has been to so many young (and older) musicians. And what pleasure and joy those musicians have brought to so many through the many years of the Suzuki Strings program.

In thinking about the confluence of all of these events and people on and around this special commemorative day in the life of OU, I could not help but think about how this weekend time capsule captured so much of what is special in the essence of the university. To be sure, many weekends at OU are packed full of activity and special events for our students, staff, faculty and friends. And when one begins to add all of that student activity, parental involvement, employee engagement, cultural and economic impact, and multiply that times many weekends across 148 years — well, Charter Day must surely signify more than a mere anniversary celebration.

In fact, it signifies the establishment and longevity of what has become a priceless community asset and an institution that has been transforming and shaping lives of significance for nearly 150 years. Charter Day celebrates people and their contributions — people from all walks of life who have come together to do the important work of enriching the lives of many through higher education for lifetimes of careers and service. It signifies a rich history and a bright future. And it signifies much of what is good and right in a world of terrorist bombings, hatred, ignorance, poverty and malfeasance.

All of us at Ottawa University thank the members of our community and the many alumni, friends, churches and trustees who have helped us get to this signature point in our long history. May we have many more such days to celebrate together in the coming years and decades.

Kevin Eichner is president of Ottawa University. He invites your feedback to this column. Email him at