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Centennial Office records

Identifier: A036


Plans for Northeastern University's centennial celebration began in 1990. In 1992, the plans formally took shape under the direction of NU President John A. Curry, assistant director of University Relations Barbara Burke and History Department Chair William M. Fowler. The planning ultimately spanned nine years and culminated with a large celebration that included a concert by the Boston Pops and an appearance by actress Shirley Jones, who is best known for her starring role in the 1970s sitcom "The Partridge Family."


  • Creation: 1990-1998
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1992-1997


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Historical Note

In 1992 President John A. Curry began planning for a celebration to commemorate the first class meeting on October 3, 1898 of the institution that became Northeastern University.  He appointed Barbara Burke, assistant director of University Relations and former executive assistant to President Kenneth G. Ryder, as the director of the Centennial Celebration, and history department chair, Professor William M. Fowler, Jr. as the chair of the Centennial Committee.  Reporting first to President Curry and later to President Richard M. Freeland (1996), Burke and Fowler worked together to coordinate the 18 working and advisory committees that would plan and implement Centennial Celebration.     

Barbara Burke retired from Northeastern University and her post as Centennial Director in May 1997.  That same month, Suzanne Leidel of the Conference and Events Planning Office became the director of the celebration.  Fowler resigned as chair of the Centennial Committee in 1997 when he left Northeastern. He presided over his last meeting as Centennial Committee Chair in January 1998.

Beginning with the Convocation (Opening Day) on October 15, 1997 and ending with the Closing Day Celebration on October 3, 1998, Northeastern celebrated its Centennial Year.  Each month during that year, a different Northeastern University college sponsored Centennial events.  The Centennial Office worked with the Office of Development to sell commemorative bricks for the Centennial Path, and a Centennial exhibit was displayed in the Curry Student Center.  Northeastern University Magazine published a series of historical essays about the University, which were later published in 1998 in a Centennial book, Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Northeastern University's First Century, edited by Linda Smith Rhoads.  And in October 1998, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postcard featuring Kerr Hall.


The Centennial Celebration was coordinated by the Centennial Committee which worked directly with the Honorary Committee.  Both reported directly to the President.  The Steering Committee, headed by William M. Fowler, Jr., oversaw the activities of the remaining working committees: Athletics, Centennial Path, Closing Celebration, Community/Government Relations, Convocations, Cultural Activities, Exhibits, Honors, Memorabilia, Oral History, Physical Plant, Public Relations, Publications, and Technology; and the advisory committees: Administrator/Staff, Alumni, Faculty, and Student.  The Steering Committee reported to the Centennial Committee.


The Honors Committee was charged with outlining criteria and selecting recipients for special Centennial awards.  It was active for three years, but no awards were presented.


The One Hundred Fund was administered by the Faculty Advisory Committee which was chaired by Harvey Vetstein of University College.  The Faculty Advisory Committee reviewed proposals and made recommendations to the Steering Committee for One Hundred Fund grants that were to "be used to encourage the planning and implementing of selected projects, events, and other University activities that will be completed during the Centennial celebration" (One Hundred Fund Correspondence, 1993-1998, Box 3).  Planning grants were not to exceed $1,000 and were awarded in January and July 1995, 1996, and 1997.  Implementation grants, with a maximum award of $5,000, were awarded in July 1995, January and July 1996 and 1997, and January 1998.

The Publications Committee oversaw the publication of the Centennial Book and Centennial Calendar.  The Convocations Committee was charged with planning the Opening Day, which included a Boston Pops Concert at Matthews Arena with special guest Shirley Jones. 


President Curry names Barbara Burke as the director of the Centennial Celebration.
Barbara Burke begins working with William M. Fowler, Jr., chair of the Centennial Committee.
Centennial committees begin to hold regular meetings.
First One Hundred Fund grants awarded.
Centennial Path Campaign begins.
Jan 1997
President Richard M. Freeland inaugurated.
Feb 1997
100th birthday celebration for Professor Emeritus Alfred J. Ferretti.
Mar 1997
Deadline for Centennial Honors Awards nominations.
Spring 1997
Sale of Centennial Calendar begins. First brick laid in Centennial Path.
May 1997
Barbara Burke retires from Centennial Office and Northeastern University. Suzanne Leidel becomes director of Centennial Celebration.
Oct 1997
Centennial Convocation held on October 15, marking the beginning of Centennial Homecoming Week. Boston Pops Concert at Matthews Arena with special guest Shirley Jones held on October 15. Centennial Exhibit opens in Curry Student Center atrium. College of Arts and Sciences Centennial month.
Nov 1997
Bouvé, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, College of Engineering, and College of Computer Science Centennial month.
Jan 1998
Fowler's last meeting as chair of the Centennial Committee.
Mar 1998
Division of Cooperative Education Centennial month.
Apr 1998
College of Business Administration Centennial month. Centennial Campaign Victory Celebration held by Office of Development. Centennial Concert held at Jordan Hall.
May 1998
College of Criminal Justice Centennial month.
Sep 1998
School of Law Centennial month.
Oct 1998
Kerr Hall postcard issued by US Postal Service. Closing Day celebration held on October 3.


10.30 cubic feet (15 containers, 1 flat file folder, 1 tube, 1 art file)

System of Arrangement:

Organized into 5 series: 1. Committee; 2. Subject Files; 3. One Hundred Fund; 4. Oral History Project; and 5. Realia.

Technical Access:

The collection includes one 3 ½ inch diskette produced by the Exhibits Committee. It contains minutes, budgets, memos, and exhibit notes. It is formatted for a Mac computer.

Physical Location

29/2, 33/4, FF2/D5, Rolled Storage


Finding aid for the Centennial Office Records
Finding aid prepared by Maria R. Estorino
October 1999
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US