Day of Commemoration fosters spirit of reflection, celebration and discovery in global IU community

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tens of thousands of individuals from around Indiana, the nation and the world took part in Indiana University's special Day of Commemoration to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the IU Bicentennial on Jan. 20.

Members of IU's worldwide community came together in person -- or joined online and across social media -- to experience multiple milestone events on IU's Bloomington campus. These events included:

  • The dedication of the university's new Big Red 200 supercomputer.
  • The inaugural ringing of the Arthur R. Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon.
  • The unveiling of two new allegorical paintings representing the university's Latin motto, "Lux et Veritas," and a six-panel mural depicting the modern history of IU Bloomington.
  • The debut of Megalonyx jeffersonii, or "Megajeff," a digitally reconstructed skeleton of a giant sloth that roamed Indiana during the ice age.
  • The headline event of the day, a keynote lecture by acclaimed actress Viola Davis.

Around 6,000 current and former students, faculty, staff and friends gathered at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to hear Davis' lecture and see IU President Michael A. McRobbie present her with an honorary IU doctoral degree. Davis, the first black actor to win acting's triple crown -- Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards -- also met with a group of IU students and gave a pep talk to members of the critically acclaimed IU African American Choral Ensemble, who delivered a rousing performance before her address.

During Davis' lecture, and throughout the day's events, IU's social media channels served as virtual gathering spaces for members of IU's worldwide community to celebrate IU's founding on Jan. 20, 1820, and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Reflecting the energy and excitement of the day and the start of IU's third century, IU news stories, photos and videos -- including a video of prominent IU alumni and friends from around the world wishing the university a happy birthday -- have been viewed more than 870,000 times and have been liked, shared or commented on more than 21,000 times.

"The stories of Indiana University are the stories of its people -- the students, faculty and staff who have helped to build and sustain the university," McRobbie said during a special Bicentennial Anniversary Luncheon. "For 200 years, the faculty and staff members of this great university have not only been responsible for the day-to-day operations without which the university could not function, they have also helped to build at Indiana University a closely knit university community with a tradition of mutual respect and commitment."

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