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story.lead_photo.caption In this August 2018 photo, Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett speaks during a ceremony at William Woods University. Photo by Jenny Gray / Fulton Sun.

UPDATE posted at 10:15 a.m. Jan. 16, 2020: 

William Woods University has postponed Friday's 150th Anniversary kick-off event in Fulton due to severe winter weather in the forecast. The event will be rescheduled for another time.

Original coverage:

William Woods University is turning 150 years old in 2020 and is kicking off its milestone year with a celebration.

College President Jahnae H. Barnett will join Jonathan Kemper, great-great-grandson of William Woods, along with local dignitaries and the entire university community for a birthday party event to mark the start of the new year.

The event will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at Cutlip Auditorium, located inside the McNutt Student Center at WWU.

The theme for the WWU sesquicentennial year is "The Woods at 150 Years: a 2020 Vision for the Future."

During the course of the year, WWU will hold events commemorating five major historical people, events or programs from the university's history, while also honoring some current features of the institution.

"Reaching 150 years as a private institution of higher education is truly a remarkable achievement and one that should be celebrated, so celebrate we will," Barnett said. "From our humble origins as a school for orphans of Civil War veterans in 1870, we have evolved into a modern, professions-based university of more than 2,000 students with its best days still ahead. If William Woods himself could see what has become of his namesake school, he would be tremendously proud."

Kemper will serve as the featured speaker at the kick-off event, where he will discuss the legacy of the man whose financial backing allowed the university to remain open and viable as a college in the early 1900s.

The spotlight on William Woods the man will be one of the five historical themes the university will mark during the year:

William Woods: the man who saved the university that bears his name.

Helen Stephens: U.S. Olympic gold medalist and the greatest athlete in William Woods history.

Jahnae H. Barnett: the most transformational president in WWU history marks her 30th year as president.

The WWU Equestrian Science program: a history of the nation's first higher education equestrian degree program.

The 1952 William Woods commencement: when future president Ronald Reagan gave the commencement address.

"All of these activities in the coming year will make for an exciting moment in time in the history of William Woods, and everyone — students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — are thrilled to be a part of it," Barnett said. "We are extremely proud of our illustrious history as an institution, but even more excited about what is in the future for William Woods University."

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