Graphic by Bell Jackson

Each year, on the second Thursday of October, the University of Montevallo celebrates Founders’ Day. This day recognizes the founding of our higher education institution and also allows seniors to don their robes for the first time. 

This year’s event was not held in Palmer Hall as usual, but was virtual and available on the University’s YouTube channel beginning Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. 

The theme for Founders’ Day was “Building for the Future: Strong and Resilient,” and focused on the challenges that the University has faced in the last several months while “laying a strong foundation for the University’s future,” according to University’s YouTube channel. 

The theme was inspired by historian and former professor, Dr. Lucille Griffith, who wrote “as institutions serve, they change. Adaptation becomes the key to life and to growth.”  

The video opens with a display of several different parts of life on campus, from athletics to Greek life to College Night, while alumna DeLee Benton sang the alma mater. 

President Dr. John Stewart III then welcomed students, faculty and staff. 

“Today, our convocation is like no other before it. Absent is the rainbow of faculty regalia. No seniors processing with robes draped over their arms. No concert choir looking back at me from the balcony. But it is not quiet. Although we are not together today, we are bound together by this very special institution,” said Stewart. 

Stewart then cited the reason for the occasion. 

“In her lifetime, Montevallo has risen to meet each of these difficult moments, often finding opportunity rising from the adversity,” said Stewart.  

“She has endured economic challenges of world wars, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, the social unrest of the 60s and 70s, the rise of ever-changing technologies and now we face our current contender, strong and more resilient than ever.” 

He closed his speech by offering congratulations to the year’s award winners. 

Instead of a keynote speaker, the video then featured video for several buildings on campus including the Center for the Arts, the addition to Morgan Hall and the Grainger Center. 

Following, Dr. Mary Beth Armstrong, provost and vice president of academic affairs, gave the investiture of the senior class. 

Seniors were asked to robe following reciting the oath and the robing of senior class president, Solomon Balaam-Reed.  

Numerous awards were also given out: 

Adjunct Music Professor Dr. Joe Ortiguera received the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award. 

Associate Communication Studies Professor Dr. Raymond Ozley received the Faculty Service Award. 

Associate Communication Studies Professor Dr. Tiffany Wang was named University Scholar. 

Mr. Coty Jones, Director of the Physical Plant, was presented the UMNAA’s Outstanding Staff Service Award. 

Professor of Art Mr. Collin WIlliams received UMNAA’s Outstanding Teaching Award. 

Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield received UMNAA’s Alumna Loyalty Award. 

Current SGA President Thomas Dillard then closed out the virtual ceremony. 

“All these changes and time of growth has made Montevallo even better than what it has been,” said Dillard. 

The final portion of the video featured clips from campus and classrooms, showing how campus has been strong and resilient in the past months according to Dillard. 

This year’s Founders’ Day committee was chaired by Director of University Events, Marion Brown. The committee also included Tiffany Bunt, Russell Alicea, Scott Dillard, Andrew Fancher, Carolyn Jones and Kira Thomas.