Indiana University set to commemorate 200th anniversary

Indiana University officials plan to toast the school’s bicentennial later this month with the dedication of a new supercomputer, the inaugural chiming of a rare collection of bells and a speech by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.

The university's Day of Commemoration events are scheduled for Jan. 20, the 200th anniversary of former Indiana Gov. Jonathan Jennings’ signing of a bill that led to the school's founding in 1820.

All three events are part of a day-long slate of activities to mark the date, including the unveiling of a replica of a giant ground sloth skeleton once housed on the school's Bloomington campus.

“We’re starting in the morning and going through the evening hours,” Jeremy Hackerd, project manager in the Indiana University Office of the Bicentennial, told The Herald-Times.

The university’s yearlong bicentennial celebration officially started July 1. Several events, such as the 200 Festival, took place during the first semester of the 2019-20 school year. More projects will be scattered throughout the next six months, with the commemoration day being one of the biggest.

A dedication ceremony for the university's new supercomputer, Big Red 200, will celebrate one of America's fastest university-owned supercomputers.

The bells of the Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon will also ring for the first time. The construction of the 130-foot (40-meter) steel tower in the arboretum that houses the mammoth instrument is the result of a $7 million project. It included demolition of a concrete tower that formerly housed the Metz Carillon.

Carillons, dating back to medieval times, provided music and also warned of imminent danger. Today, there are about 600 carillons globally. The Metz Grand Bicentennial Carillon has 65 bells — four more than the previous incarnation. The additional bells make it a grand carillon, one of fewer than 30 such instruments in the world.

Davis, who won an Oscar in 2017 for her portrayal of Rose Mazson in the film “Fences,” is slated to give a lecture at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The free event will mark the school's bicentennial and Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

The commemoration ends in June with the Bicentennial Alumni Reunion. It starts June 1 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and moves to the Bloomington campus June 6.

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