CNN VIPs, Spirited Runners Highlight Oglethorpe Day

The Starting Five: Petrels of Fire runners have 30.92 seconds to finish the race around the quad, before the noon carillon bell stops tolling. No runner has ever officially finished within the allotted time frame.

Tom Johnson and Natalie Allen with Dr. Schall

On February 9, 2011 Petrels all over the country celebrated Oglethorpe Day, an annual celebration of James Edward Oglethorpe, the university’s namesake and founder of the Georgia colony.

On campus, students and staff welomed former CNN President Tom Johnson and current CNN International Anchor Natalie Allen for a lively discussion about their experiences in global media. 

The  festivities began with the Petrels of Fire race, a 270-yard dash around the quad in an effort to beat the 12 noon carillon bell toll.  This year’s race drew five brave sprinters who battled the cold and each other in the fierce race to the finish.  In keeping with tradition, runners had 30.92 seconds to complete the challenge, and this year freshman Billy Colbert reportedly came within three seconds of the bells.

Following the race, a bagpiper summoned the crowd of spectators to the Conant Performing Arts Center to attend the OU Day dialogue.  Both Johnson and Allen engaged in an hour-long discussion, moderated by Devon Belcher, assistant professor of philosophy, about their careers in media. They entertained questions from students and touched on current issues such as censorship, Wiki-leaks, and the future of journalism. 

Afterward, OU President Larry Schall and Dean of Students Michelle Hall presented the speakers with plaques commemorating two four-year scholarships that have been established in their names.  Two deserving students in next year’s freshman class will be the recipients of the scholarships. 

Happy Oglethorpe Day!

CNN International anchor Natalie Allen poses with student leaders Matthew Claiborne '11 (right), who introduced the two speakers onstage, and Nathaniel Goldman '11 (left).

What's OU Day without Petey?