UMSL community gathers to celebrate 60th anniversary of the university’s founding

by | Sep 15, 2023

Hundreds of people took part in the festivities and shared a 60th birthday cake on Friday morning in the Millennium Student Center.
Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and Louie the Triton cut the Cake at the Red & Gold Day Celebration

Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and Louie the Triton cut the Cake at the Red & Gold Day Celebration. Hundreds of people filed into the ground floor of the Millennium Student Center as UMSL commemorated the 60th anniversary of its founding on Friday morning. (Photos by Derik Holtmann)

A mix of students, faculty and staff members had already started trickling into the lower level of the Millennium Student Center Friday morning at the University of Missouri–St. Louis when Mindy Dilley picked up the microphone to officially kick off the celebration.

“It’s now 9:30, it’s UMSL’s birthday, and we’re excited,” said Dilley, the associate director of student involvement, as she hit play on a mix of music that began with Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday.”

As the playlist continued through other familiar hits such as “Happy,” “Walking on Sunshine” and “Celebration,” the crowd continued to grow, filling the space adorned with red and gold balloons.

Red & Gold Day 60th anniversary cake

A cake decorated with UMSL’s 60th anniversary logo lies waiting to be cut on a table outside The Nosh.

Members of the Chancellor’s Council eventually arrived to join in the festivities, and by 10 a.m., all eyes turned to Chancellor Kristin Sobolik standing on stage behind a cake decorated with the UMSL’s 60th anniversary logo.

“Happy birthday to the University of Missouri–St. Louis!” Sobolik said as applause filled the room. “What a great day! Everybody showed out in their red and gold for Red & Gold Day – except for Chief Dan Freet.”

That elicited more than a few chuckles, though Freet – ever on duty – turned to show off the university colors in the department patch on the arm of his uniform shirt.

Sobolik continued: “We are so excited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our favorite university, the University of Missouri–St. Louis. This is UMSL Red & Gold Day. I’m Chancellor Kristin Sobolik, and I tell you, I’m so pleased that you came out to support your university just like you do each and every day.”

She noted how 60 years ago – Sept. 15, 1963 – the university was formed on land that was once Bellerive Country Club. It was established with support from surrounding community in Normandy, Missouri, and with backing from the Missouri Legislature, led by then-Rep. Wayne Goode.

A crowd of hundreds fills the ground floor of the MSC for the Red & Gold Day celebration

A crowd of students, faculty, staff members and other supporters fills the ground floor of the Millennium Student Center to take part in the Red & Gold Day celebration.

Sobolik directed the audience’s attention to the statue of Goode a short stroll from the door to the MSC.

“He’s beaming,” Sobolik said of the statue of Goode, who passed away in October 2020 at the age of 83. “He’s happy about all the support that he sees for his university. So thank you all for helping us celebrate as we continue to rise up after 60 years.”

Soon after, Sobolik picked up a knife resting on the table and, joined by Louie the Triton, cut into the cake as all those in attendance sang “Happy birthday.”

The party continued throughout the remainder of the morning with people taking photographs with colleagues or with Louie on stage in front of the 60th anniversary backdrop.

The crowd shared cake and conversation, and members of the Office of Student Involvement raffled off door prizes, including UMSL sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats and pennants.

People on campus weren’t the only ones celebrating the 60th anniversary.

Staff members take photos with Louie during Red & Gold Day

A group of staff members take a photo with Louis the Triton on stage outside the Nosh.

Alumni and friends across the St. Louis region and far beyond took photos wearing their red and gold with fellow graduates at their places of work and shared them on social media.

Chief of Staff Adella Jones led a team of staff members in delivering cakes to notable people around town to share in the celebration. With Louie along for the ride, they visited St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Greater St. Louis Inc. CEO Jason Hall, Sen. Brian Williams and Chancellor Emerita Blanche Touhill.

Back on campus, the UMSL Alumni Association held a Triton Traditions Scavenger Hunt, in which teams of up to six students, alumni or staff members answered trivia questions, competed in games such as free-throw shooting contests and set out to solve puzzles and collect photos around campus – at the MSC, Bugg Lake, the Recreation and Wellness Center and University Libraries. More than 10 teams participated and won prizes such as T-shirts, flags and UMSL-themed St. Louis Cardinals hats.

UMSL also launched a 60-day walking challenge for faculty and staff members with a goal that each participant will walk 600,000 steps between now and Nov. 15. For more information on the challenge or to register, faculty and staff members van visit https://www.umsl.edu/campusrecreation/fitnessandwellness/index.html. Registration must be completed by Sept. 22 to participate. Walking can be done anywhere, but all registered participants will have access to the RWC track or treadmills between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the challenge. There will be individual and department competitions.

Below are a taste of some of the posts shared on social media.

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Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik

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