EUREKA — Former Gov. Jim Edgar joined Eureka College officials on Tuesday to launch a year-long tribute to Ronald Reagan, the campus’s most famous alum, who would have turned 100 on Feb. 6.
His alma mater’s Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration includes a speaker series, a national scholarly conference and more. The focus is Reagan’s formative years.
“We are all creatures of our environment,” said Edgar, honorary chairman.
Reagan developed his leadership skills and role as a great communicator while attending Eureka, so it is most appropriate that the college’s focus is on Reagan’s formative years, said Edgar. Statewide and national commissions on Reagan’s centennial also have been organized.
Of four U.S. presidents who have come from Illinois, Reagan is the only one who was born, raised and educated here, Eureka President David Arnold said.
At the Cerf Center, Edgar said recent scandals in Illinois politics have created a negative perception of the kind of leaders this state produces. But the Charleston native said it’s noteworthy those politicians aren’t from Central Illinois.
Reagan, Bloomington’s Adlai E. Stevenson, Pekin’s Everett Dirksen and Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln speak “well of Central Illinois,” he said.
Arnold said he expects the celebration to bring attention to Eureka, but the campus will focus on turning Reagan’s leadership into an educational experience for future leaders. “Our primary motivation is education,” he said.
Tours of The Ronald Reagan Museum at Eureka College, which includes artifacts from Reagan’s life, also will be offered. The museum has had more than 15,000 visitors in 2010, compared to 10,000 the previous year, said Brian Sajko, a Eureka vice president and the curator of the museum.
Statewide and national commissions on Reagan’s centennial also have been organized.
Eureka College Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration
All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 17: Reagan Centennial Speaker Series starts with 10 a.m. speech in Cerf Center by Michael Maibach, CEO, European-American Business Council; other speakers and dates, all at 7:30 p.m. in the Cerf Center, are William Wind, U.S. Secret Service, Oct. 4; Carrie Thompson Wolf, assistant parliamentarian, U.S. House of Representatives, Oct. 25; and George Leal, assistant district attorney for U.S. District Court, El Paso, Texas, Nov. 1. Spring speakers are Joanne Drake, Reagan Presidential Foundation director; Charles Lee, Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office; and Jay Hein, former director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Nov. 9: Retired Gen. Paul X. Kelley, former U.S. Marine Corps commandant, becomes 2010-2011 honorary Ronald Reagan Fellow.
Jan. 13-15: “Reagan and the Midwest,” national academic conference on Reagan’s formative years in Illinois. No fee; pre-registration required at 309-467-6301.
Feb. 4: 4 p.m., Cerf Center, Eureka College Founders’ Day observance; keynote speaker: the Rev. Glenn Carson, president, Disciples of Christ Historical Society.
Feb. 6: President Reagan’s 100th birthday; Super Bowl XLV party at Reagan Physical Education Center, $20, reservations at 309-467-6420.
Feb. 19: 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Eureka College Chamber Singers will accompany Dixon Municipal Band, world premiere of “Reagan in Illinois” by David Holsinger; visit www.dixontheatre.com
May term: Reagan scholar Craig Shirley to teach three-week course on “Survey of American Presidential Campaigns.”
SOURCE: Eureka College administration