On February 5, 1840, the charter for the first of Southwestern University’s four root colleges, Rutersville College, was signed and approved by the Texas legislature, thereby establishing the state’s first institution of higher learning. This year, SU commemorated the milestone 180th anniversary of its founding during a weekend of celebration that took place February 7–8, 2020.

To honor the University’s history and its continued progress forward, Southwestern hosted a number of events for students, alumni, faculty, and staff. On Friday, this year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards shared their stories during a panel before being recognized at a reception dinner. A reception honoring the University’s volunteers and donors followed, as did a session led by Professor of Mathematics and Garey Chair in Mathematics Alison Marr, who discussed the science of card games such as Texas Hold ’Em. On Saturday, alumni networked with students during a luncheon, sharing how they’ve applied their skills in connecting ideas, thinking creatively, and problem-solving beyond campus and after graduation. Activities for Pirates of all ages rounded out the schedule, from treasure hunts, a campus tour focusing on the University’s history, and a hands-on session about the mathematics of soap bubbles to a performance by the Austin Civic Orchestra and a Q&A with Susan Slagle Rogers ’83, who provided a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the animated film Kung Fu Panda (2008).