Students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered this afternoon at Reynolds Coliseum to celebrate NC State’s 125th birthday. The party is one of several events planned for the yearlong celebration of the university’s anniversary.
“It’s always great to see students, but I look out and see faculty and staff,” said Liana Fryer, who works for NC State in the Office of Research and Innovation. “It’s a unifying experience.”
Reynolds did see some basketball, as the men’s team took the stage at the celebration. But the coliseum was mainly transformed from a basketball court into a dance floor as a the packed house “jumped around” to hip-hop beats. Some even hit the stage to dance, including Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas H. Stafford Jr., who held a mask of Alexander Holladay, the university’s first president.
Chancellor Randy Woodson couldn’t be swayed. “The chancellor does not dance,” Woodson said.
Woodson did show off one of his talents when he took the stage with Old Man Whickutt, a North Carolina-based bluegrass and American roots band, and performed NC State’s fight song on guitar. After he performed, Woodson had advice for the crowd. “Plan on the future,” he told the audience. “Be bold in everything you do. And 125 years from now, we’ll be celebrating NC State.”
Old Man Whickutt also took the opportunity to perform its new song, “When Jesus Comes Back,” which celebrates State’s long-standing rivalry with UNC with such lines as: When Jesus comes back, I know that he will. He’ll save every city except Chapel Hill. When Jesus comes back, this is what he’s gonna do. He’ll paint the sky red, no more Carolina blue.
Jude Jackson, a sophomore from Jacksonville, N.C., said it was wonderful to be a part of the birthday bash and such an energetic salute to the university. “It’s just great to see NC State’s 125 years of history alive,” he said. “[NC State] is just a great place to be in a great city.”
But the event took time to reflect on NC State’s past and its commitment to the values as a land-grant institution. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, the audience watched a video celebrating the university’s history and achievements.
“I think of the mark of NC State and all of us graduates,” said Fryer, who earned her Ph.D. from NC State in 1996. She cited the roads that Wolfpack engineers have built and the innovations of textiles graduates. “Nobody wakes up in North Carolina without being touched by NC State in so many ways.”