Famous figures from Macalester's past to appear at Founders' Day

By Brian Martucci

As if the usual student-staff mingling, semi-open bar and general tomfoolery inherent in the occasion were not enough, tonight’s Founders’ Day will feature a new twist. This year, a few Macalester students and faculty will mark the occasion and add to the festive spirit by dressing up as historical figures from Macalester’s past.Actually, only one faculty member and one trustee will be participating in the affair: Dean of Students Laurie Hamre will play founder Margaret Doty and trustee John B. Davis will appear as his legendary self. Davis has been an active figure around the college lately, most recently appearing on a podcast interview with Anna Min ’09 in which he discussed the changes Macalester has gone through since his tenure as president in the 1970s.

Indeed, not all the Founders’ Day characters will be “founders” of the college in the strict sense. Many have been selected for the contributions they have made to Macalester’s life and vitality over the years. Davis, for example, is widely credited with strengthening the college and taking it in a new direction during his time here, while Mary Gwen Owen was one of the first tenured female professors here.

Among the student actors will be and Becky Roberts ’09, who will play Owen-on whose namesake stage the event will take place. The actors will be compensated to the tune of as much as 50 dollars worth of gift certificates to local stores, according to Johnson.

“That’s a good amount for just a few hours of work,” he said.

Many of those tapped to portray figures from Macalester’s past have or have had involvements with the theater department. The costumes were created by Lynn Farrington of the theater department, according to Associate Director for Alumni Relations Steven Sporer.

“This is my fourth year doing Founder’s Day,” said Zack Johnson ’08, adding that he was turned on to the idea while taking classes with the department his first year at Mac.

Johnson is slated to portray Theodore Mitau, a prominent mid-20th century figure here and Macalester’s first Jewish professor. The idea of filling the distinguished man’s shoes for a day didn’t seem to faze Johnson.

“The costume is great,” he said. “I get to wear some cool eyeglasses from the 50s and put a gallon of gel in my hair to make sure it stays in place.”

The dressed-up characters will greet new arrivals to the festivities from 8:30 p.m. until midnight, according to Sporer. Period dress will be the norm, and each actor will sport a nametag for easy identification.

As for the style and look of the costumes, such details remain under wraps until the big night, but by all accounts the getups should be a hit.

“Lynn has been very flexible and done a really great job,” on the designs of the costumes, said Sporer. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Founders’ Day begins at 8:30 tonight and runs until midnight. Over-21s will mingle with faculty and staff in a roped-off bar area on the main level of the campus center; younger students will be able to indulge in those infamous mocktails on the upper floor.