Oglethorpe Day 2024 to feature Petrels of Fire race, DeKalb County CEO and author Michael Thurmond

A time-honored Oglethorpe University tradition is just around the corner. On Wednesday, Feb. 14, students, faculty and staff will gather once again on the academic quad to celebrate Oglethorpe Day.

Oglethorpe Day recognizes the lasting legacy of the university’s namesake, General James Edward Oglethorpe. A philanthropist, military leader, and member of Parliament, Oglethorpe was regarded as one of Britain’s most active 18th century humanitarians. This day marks the anniversary of the arrival of Oglethorpe in Georgia in 1733.

Join us on the quad at 12:45 p.m. for snacks and refreshments as a few of our student athletes prepare to run the 34th-annual Petrels of Fire race, which will begin at 1 p.m. sharp. This race against the clock challenges participants to complete a lap around the quad and reach the finish line before the bell tower chimes stop ringing — a feat accomplished only once in Oglethorpe history.

Headshot of Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond, CEO of Dekalb County

After the race, festivities will continue in the Conant Performing Arts Center. CEO of DeKalb County Michael Thurmond will deliver this year’s featured lecture about his soon-to-be-published book “James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia: A Founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist,” an examination of the life and career of Georgia’s founder. After his remarks, Thurmond will be signing copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.

Thurmond has served as CEO of DeKalb County since 2017, where he has focused primarily on restoring trust in county government. He is a former member of the Georgia General Assembly and former superintendent of the DeKalb County Schools District. He graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion from Paine College and later earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In addition to his career as a public servant, Thurmond is an avid historian. Two decades of diligent research will culminate with his biography on James Oglethorpe due out on Feb. 15. Set apart from his contemporaries by his relatively progressive views on prison reform and slavery, James Oglethorpe is widely regarded for his outspoken humanitarian efforts. In his Oglethorpe Day lecture, Thurmond will discuss the findings of his historical research on the university’s namesake.

Classes will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 31. As students, faculty and staff settle in to the new year, the Oglethorpe Day celebration is a chance to get in the spirit for another semester!

Oglethorpe will also celebrate OU Giving Day on February 14

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