Carillon Tower to Feature “Happy Birthday” for Founders’ Day on Campus

Contact: Kate Dixon, Wisconsin Alumni Association, (608) 265-8769,

MADISON, Wis. — A performance of “Happy Birthday” performed at the Carillon Tower will ring in this year’s Founders’ Day celebration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on February 6.

Marking the 163rd anniversary of the first classes at the university, this year’s Founders’ Day events, sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association, will highlight the history and development of the 100-year-old Wisconsin Idea — the concept that the university should use its knowledge to solve problems affecting the state of Wisconsin and the rest of the world.

The Carillon Tower performance by University Carillonneur Lyle Anderson on Monday, Feb. 6, from 10:30-11 a.m., will also include UW-themed songs, as students enjoy birthday cupcakes at the Social Sciences building on Observatory Drive.

The public and campus community will mark the occasion with birthday cake and a talk from PhD student Gwen Drury, who will offer spirited insights on the how the tenets of the Wisconsin Idea have played out over the last century and what the concept means today.

Drury’s talk, “The Wisconsin Spirit — What Makes the UW Special,” will be Monday, Feb. 6 at 2 p.m. in Memorial Union’s Tripp Commons. The event is free and open to the public.

“This year, we hope knowing more about the Wisconsin Idea will inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students to use the time they spend at UW-Madison to impact families and communities of Wisconsin and beyond in a positive way,” said Paula Bonner MS’78, WAA’s president and CEO.

Students will get a short history lesson along with their birthday cake at the Gordon Commons, Pops Clubs or Rheta’s dining halls beginning at noon. Bucky Badger will make his annual appearances at the dining halls to celebrate this Founders’ Day tradition.

Although UW-Madison officially opened its doors 163 years ago on Feb. 5, 1848, when Professor John Sterling taught the first class of just 17 students, the first Founders’ Day celebration took place in 1924 with a party at the Stock Pavilion.

Today, there are approximately 70 Founder’s Day celebrations taking place across the United States and other countries, where alumni chapters honor Badgers of the Year and make connections with their alma mater and fellow Badgers. More details are at