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Celebrating 150 years of Macalester

Happy new year, and welcome to Macalester’s sesquicentennial milestone!

As we mark 150 years since the college’s founding in 1874, we’re delighted to announce plans for a year of reflection, celebration, and joy—and you’re invited.

Throughout 2024, we’ll honor defining moments in the college’s history, and the many people over generations who have nurtured Macalester. We’ll celebrate who we are and what’s happening on campus today. And, with our strategic plan as a road map, we will continue building toward our vision for the next 150 years.

You are part of this story, and I hope you’ll join us throughout the year to celebrate on campus, online, and around the world. Read on about how we’re commemorating this milestone, and visit for all the details.

In the Works

Heartfelt thanks to all of our alumni, faculty, staff, and students who have helped plan our sesquicentennial celebrations so far. Here’s an overview:

  • In the fall, we created a sesquicentennial celebration grant program to tap into our campus community’s incredible creativity. We received twenty-seven fantastic applications, and selected seven projects that will highlight the sesquicentennial through campus-wide celebrations of the college’s traditions, spaces, community, history, and future.
  • This month, we kicked off our sesquicentennial storytelling video series. Many thanks to that planning committee—led by Shelley Carthen Watson ’82, Andrew Kaufteil ’01, and Mark Vander Ploeg ’74—for identifying transformative Macalester themes and turning points that help to tell Macalester’s story. The first video is about the college’s Expanded Educational Opportunities (EEO) program. Next month, we’ll invite alumni to share their EEO stories in a Zoom conversation on Feb. 12, which will be recorded for the college’s archives.
  • We’ll host five regional events for alumni, parents, and families, at which I’ll moderate conversations among members of our community. That series begins on Feb. 8 in Washington, D.C., followed by future events in Chicago, New York City, the Twin Cities, and San Francisco.
  • In partnership with the Class of 1974’s 50th Reunion committee, our Law Warschaw Gallery will highlight fifty years of alumni art in an exhibit open during Reunion 2024, June 6–9.
  • And what would a Macalester milestone be without bagpipes? On July 13, we’ll host the Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games, with a chance to see the Macalester Pipe Band perform before they head to Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships. Then, in August, two faculty-led Scotland tours for alumni and friends will culminate in Glasgow, where we’ll gather to cheer on our Pipe Band at the competition! We’ll also host a reception in Glasgow for anyone who wants to plan their own trip.

Seeking Your Voice

Throughout the year, we want to hear from you! Here’s how to get involved:

For All Members of Our Community

  • Share your Mac mascot idea! As part of an Athletics branding project, we’ll introduce a new college mascot later this year. Throughout the college’s history, there have been a variety of animals (including dogs, pigs, and ducks) we called our mascot. Our “Mac the Scot” costume was introduced in 2005 and, while loved by some, the college’s birthday feels like the right time to reimagine a character that represents Macalester’s spirit. We’ve convened a committee to create a new mascot together, and we’re seeking community input: please fill out this brief mascot input survey by Feb. 2 with your ideas and feedback.
  • Make a gift to the Macalester Fund to celebrate the college’s legacy and future.

For Alumni

  • Tell us your own Macalester story: Our Macalester Archives team is making plans for a mini oral history project series, with opportunities to talk about your Mac experience (on your own or in pairs) at upcoming events like Reunion and Mac Fest. Watch for more information about this project—we value including as many voices and perspectives as possible.
  • Consider donating items from your college years to the Macalester Archives, especially student life items from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Your contributions are essential to help us tell the college’s story. Reach out to [email protected] to start the conversation.
  • Reconnect: Update your profile on our MacConnect career and connection hub, share a Macalester Today class note by emailing [email protected], and learn more about alumni volunteer opportunities.

Mark Your Calendar

Make plans to participate in upcoming events this winter:

  • Our annual Macalester Sunday traditions at House of Hope Presbyterian Church on Feb. 4 and Westminster Presbyterian Church on Apr. 7
  • Our first sesquicentennial regional event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 8
  • Tartan Trivia on Feb. 22, happening in cities around the world
  • Give to Macalester Days, Mar. 27–29

It’s going to be a very special year for our Macalester community—I’m looking forward to celebrating together.

Go, Scots!

Dr. Suzanne M. Rivera