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UNM throws itself a party to celebrate 125 years

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Quasquicentennial – what a wonderful word!”

That was University of New Mexico President Bob Frank in a message to the campus this week. He was speaking about the 125th birthday of the university, which will be celebrated all day Friday – Lobo Day – at various locations around campus.

UNM's Hodgin Hall and the Hadley Science Center, behind it, are shown in this 1902 image. Hodgin Hall was the university's first building, according to the UNM Alumni Association's website.

UNM’s Hodgin Hall and the Hadley Science Center, behind it, are shown in this 1902 image. Hodgin Hall was the university’s first building, according to the UNM Alumni Association’s website.

The year was 1889. In less than a week, Benjamin Harrison would be sworn in as the country’s 23rd president. Washington had just formally applied for statehood and would be one of four new states admitted to the union by year’s end. (New Mexico wouldn’t become a state until 1912.)

Before the year was out, Thomas Edison would show his first motion picture; the Eiffel Tower would open in Paris; the New York Giants would beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series; Nintendo – then Nintendo Koppai – was formed to produce and market the Japanese card game Hanafuda; Kodak cameras would go on sale; Coca-Cola – then known as the Pemberton Medicine Co. – would be incorporated in Atlanta; and using his bare knuckles, John L. Sullivan would knock out Jake Kilrain in 75 rounds.

It was quite a year.

As the quasquicentennial approaches, Frank is understandably exuberant.

“This day is an important tradition because it signifies a time for us to look back on our vibrant history, measure our successes over decades, and thank everyone who has enriched our institution,” he said.

The birthday festivities Friday include:

• The showing of a trailer for a homecoming video about UNM’s 125 years. It will play just before Frank’s State of the University address at 9 a.m. in Keller Hall.

n Birthday cake, piñatas, confetti cannon – all will grace the Student Union Building at noon. Students clad in cherry and silver will pose for an oversized photo that will later be posted on a SUB wall.

• A reception outside the Alumni Relations Office on the east plaza of Hodgin Hall, with music and refreshments. Birthday cupcakes will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and the crowd will sing “Happy Birthday.”

n An exhibit of photos, 125 Years of Architecture, in the grand hall of the Center for the Arts.

Other celebrations will be held throughout the year, according to Karen Abraham, director of the Alumni Relations Office. In September, the 125th anniversary will be the main theme of homecoming.

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