Founders Week is Lewis University’s annual celebration of its history, Mission, and heritage. This very special week in April is a time to reflect on our roots as a dynamic institution of higher education and to recognize and honor our faculty, staff and students for their dedication to Lewis University and our Catholic and Lasallian Mission.
Founded in 1932 under the direction of the Chicago Archdiocese and Bishop Bernard J. Sheil, Lewis began as Holy Name Technical School, a school for boys which opened with 15 students. The school was established on a campus of 170 acres of farmland that was donated to the Archdiocese by Michael Fitzpatrick and his sister, Frances Fitzpatrick of Lockport. From the beginning, Frank J. Lewis, the noted Chicago philanthropist and industrialist, took an active interest in the institution. He provided funds to support student scholarships and financed the construction of several buildings that became the core of the campus. Brother Hildolph Caspar, FFSC, and the German-speaking Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross from Springfield, Illinois played a critical role in the daily operations of the school and in the spiritual guidance of the students during the early days, serving in a variety of key roles.
Each year during Founders Week, a special memorial Mass is held in honor of Frank J. Lewis and his family, as well as the University’s other founders. It is also at this Mass that the University Community remembers faculty, staff, students, and other friends of the University who have passed away in the last year.
In the year 1679, shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, De La Salle began a new educational work in his city of birth, Rheims, France, where he opened a school for poor children.
He opened other schools and brought his co-workers together as a religious congregation, known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the De La Salle Christian Brothers). The work of the Christian Schools flourished under his guidance and continues today through the educational efforts of the Christian Brothers and their dedicated partners in the Lasallian schools.
It is during Founders Week that the Lewis University Community recognizes faculty, staff, and students for their marvelous dedication to teaching, dedication, volunteerism, and years of service through a number of important ceremonies and events.
Faculty and staff are honored for their years of dedicated service each year at A Celebration of Service. Employees are recognized for five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five years and forty-five years of service. In addition, those who are retiring from the University are recognized in a special ceremony.
Of the many traditions associated with Founders Week, the presentation of various Lasallian Awards is a one of the highlights of the week. The University presents a series of awards in the spirit of our Catholic and Lasallian Mission, including the prestigious De La Salle Medallions for Exemplary Volunteer Service and the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award. Nominations for these awards are received from the members of the University community and applications are reviewed and discussed by the Mission Recognition and Awards Committee of the Mission and Heritage Council.
Students are recognized for their dedicated volunteer service at the annual President’s Recognition of Student Volunteers. Two students will also receive the prestigious De La Salle Medallion for Exemplary Volunteer Service at this special dinner and program hosted by Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President.
Outstanding student athletes are recognized each year for their scholarly
achievements at the Brother David Delahanty Student Athlete
This award ceremony is named in honor of Brother David Delahanty, President
of Lewis University from June 1982 until his death in October 1987.
A personal advocate of physical fitness, he encouraged Lewis students
to achieve excellence not only in the academic sphere, but also in the
During the closing liturgy for Founders Week each year, a handful of students are inducted into the Society of Lasallian Collegians. The Society is an association of several dozen outstanding students who have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the integration of their faith with giving service and investing in a caring community.
In addition to the traditional events mentioned above, Founders Week also features a number of lectures, presentations, and various other activities which promote, highlight, and educate about the history and Mission of Lewis University.