Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan universities will mark their Founders Day this week and next, with the usual round of processionals, speeches, exhibits and awards.

Those attending today’s events at ISU won’t mistake 2013 for any of the university’s previous 156 years.

This year, the university bids farewell to one of its strongest presidents and prepares to welcome his successor — all the while continuing to provide a strong education to the 20,000-plus students on campus and honoring the alumni and faculty of the past.

Today’s schedule includes a bell-ringing ceremony at Bone Student Center, followed by exhibits and an alumni luncheon. The highlight is the annual convocation that starts at 2 p.m. with the processional of faculty in full academic regalia.

Former ISU voice and drama student Sean Hayes will receive an honorary degree. Hayes won several awards for his portrayal of “Jack” on NBC’s “Will & Grace,” and has had several well-received turns on stage and in movies. His production company is in its fourth season of producing TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” with Betty White.

A posthumous honorary degree will be awarded to J. Michael Adams, Class of 1969, who became president of Fairleigh Dickinson University, the first university to earn “Special Consultative Status” with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

At IWU next week, the university will honor the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with an address by scholar Allen C. Guelzo.

“Was the Civil War a Second American Revolution?” begins at 11 a.m. Feb. 27 at Westbrook Auditorium. The convocation honors 30 founders who signed the university’s charter in 1850.

Despite the hoopla at both schools about speakers and awards, Founders Day is about the thousands of other ISU graduates throughout the years, and those who have educated and housed them.

Congratulations to all.

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