September 14, 2021

Purdue’s Ackerman Center to host 16th annual Constitution Day on Sept. 17

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University’s James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship is hosting the 16th annual Constitution Day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday (Sept. 17) at the Purdue Memorial Union.

Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution by 39 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787. In 2004, Congress passed a law designating Sept. 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. The law requires that “each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program” about the Constitution annually on or near that date.

The date also is designated Citizenship Day to focus on the rights and responsibilities of citizens under the Constitution. At Purdue, this event strives to educate students and community members about the Constitution and citizenship both historically and as they apply to today’s challenges.

“This year’s event is especially meaningful. Constitution Day 2021 is the third approved Civics Literacy Proficiency (CLP) event in Purdue’s newly adopted civics literacy graduation requirement for all incoming undergraduate students,” said Phillip VanFossen, director of the Ackerman Center and Ackerman Distinguished Professor of Social Studies Education in the College of Education. “That means students who choose the civic events pathway to fulfill their Civic Literacy Proficiency requirement will be able to count Constitution Day as their third civics event.”

The CLP program was created with the goal of enriching the educational experiences of Purdue students to foster a more knowledgeable and engaged student body in the workforce and beyond. The program is a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students beginning in fall 2021.

VanFossen was appointed by Provost Jay Akridge to a faculty team – with political science professor Jay McCann and Robert Browning, director of the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement, to develop the then-voluntary CLP, which was later mandated by the Purdue Board of Trustees.

Constitution Day will offer a variety of activities to celebrate the Constitution and develop civic literacy. Organizers have developed online Kahoot quizzes that draw sample questions from the required Purdue Test of Civic Knowledge.

In addition, Purdue Libraries will have a display on “Freedom of Speech,” and other games and displays will focus on the Bill of Rights and the Preamble. The Provost’s Office will have a table with takeaway information about the new CLP program, and the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement will promote its podcast series specially developed as one of the optional CLP pathways.

The highlight of Constitution Day is a “Jeopardy”-style game show to test the knowledge of student participants about the Constitution and its history. The Celebrity Quiz Off at 12:30 p.m. will include prominent members of the community, such as West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis; Lafayette Fire Chief Richard Doyle; Indiana state representatives Sheila Klinker and Chris Campbell; Nancy Marchand-Martella, the Suzi and Dale Gallagher Dean of Education at Purdue; Tippecanoe County Superior Court 6 Judge Mike Morrissey; and Shannon Kang, current president of Purdue Student Government. A Student Quiz Off will take place at 11:30 a.m.

Along with these activities, there will be giveaways, including pocket-sized copies of the Constitution and Constitution Day pins, and refreshments such as prepackaged cookies and brownies and self-serve coffee and water.

The James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship has programs and resources for K-12 and community educators to implement powerful citizenship education that promotes active involvement in schools and communities. Learn more at

Watch video about the Purdue Constitution Day 2020 on YouTube at

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Kathryn Cockerill,

Media contact: Brian Huchel,

Source: Phillip VanFossen,

Note to journalists: Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

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