In 1896, Montevallo was selected to be the site of a new educational institution. For 118 years, this university has been the place for unconventional wisdom, and on this 118th annual Founders’ Day, campus is buzzing with excitement and school pride.

Founders’ Day includes a number of events, from the much anticipated Life Raft Debate to the invite-only alumni dinner and awards ceremony. The main focus of today, however, is the convocation wherein the robing of the seniors and the initiation into honor society Omicron Delta Kappa take place. In addition to the seniors getting their gowns, the University takes time to designate one outstanding faculty member as University Scholar.

Teaching, research and service are the three requirements all faculty members must fulfill, and the University Scholar designation recognizes significant contributions to research and creative endeavors. “This award acknowledges scholarship that exceeds expectations and that impacts the professional community beyond the UM campus,” explained Dr. Jim Day of the history department.

Day is the designated faculty member for this year’s Scholar award, but it didn’t come without plenty of hard work. “In my case, I have published several book reviews, some encyclopedia articles and a few peer-reviewed journals,” stated Day.

His most recent monograph, titled “Diamonds in the Rough: A History of Alabama’s Cahaba Coal Field,” was published by the University of Alabama Press in 2013. It later received the Clinton Jackson Coley Award from the Alabama Historical Association as the best work on Alabama history.

His extensive resumè earned him his award, and he sees the recognition as a confirmation of his success. “It is quite an honor to be named University Scholar,” he said. “The committee consists of other faculty members who have earned the award, and their selection affirms and validates my professional publications.”

The convocation ceremony is undoubtedly an exciting day for graduating seniors, but this Founders’ Day, Dr. Day has a reason to celebrate as well.