Current University seniors will have the chance to don their graduation robes for the first time at the 119th Founders’ Day Ceremony. Photo by Donnie Bennet for The Alabamian.
A large group of students sits attentively in Palmer Auditorium. Knees bouncing, fingers quietly tapping and eyes fixed straight ahead — the students wait. In just a few moments, they will officially be recognized as seniors at the University of Montevallo.
Finally, their moment comes. The students rise as one and slip on robes and caps while family, frieends, and faculty applaud in approval.
This ceremony takes place every year on the second Thursday of October. It is called Founders’ Day, and it is one of the most established traditions on campus.
Founders’ Day celebrates the establishment of the University of Montevallo in 1896. According to the university website, “The school opened on October 12 in Reynolds Hall.” This year the celebration will take place at 11 a.m. on Oct. 8. It will mark an impressive 119 years for the university.
Every year a Founders’ Day Committee is selected by President John Stewart to direct the events of the day. Director of University Events Marion Brown is serving as the chair of the committee.
“I love the history of this institution. I think it’s a miracle that it ever came forth and that people ever saw the need to value women’s education,” Brown said. She is looking forward to the ceremony and describes it as an opportunity to “realize what a unique and special place we work and learn in.” Brown believes all seniors should participate in the ceremony. “It only happens once in your life, and you really shouldn’t miss it,” she explained. “I would also encourage regular students to attend so that they, too, can learn more about the history of the institution.”
This year’s committee includes: Tiffany Bunt, Carol Bruser, Scott Dillard, Andrew Fancher, William Hughes, Carolyn Jones, Cedric Norman, Tracy Payne-Rockco, Meredith Waldrop, Wade Walker and Jahzmin Young.
University Director of Development Scott Dillard has the rolejob of assisting the keynote speaker with his or her presentation. This year the keynote address will be presented by university alumnus Mr. Tim Lupinacci. “While Mr. Lupinacci is a very accomplished attorney, his commitment to the community and those in need is truly inspiring,” Dillard said.
Senior Class President Hunter Huie will represent the senior class on stage. Huie describes Founders’ Day as a symbolic transition from being a senior to entering an alumni role. “I think it’s really cool that we get a chance to do something ceremonial that’s been repeated over and over again,” Huie said. He hopes that other students will come to the Founders’ Day celebration since it is a chance to honor the birth of the university: “Constitution Day is the birth of our country; it’s kind of a similar concept there.” Huie also says that “it’s fun to be part of that atmosphere. …And they’re letting you out of class. You’re out of class. That’s another good reason to come.”
In addition to the keynote speaker and the robing of the seniors, the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society tapping will take place. A select group of students will be invited to join the national leadership society based on leadership and academic achievements.
Five prestigious awards will also be announced: the University Scholar Award, the Faculty Service Award, the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, the Outstanding Staff Service Award and the Alumnus Loyalty Award. In 2013, two new awards were added by Academic Affairs: the Academic Advising Award and the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award.
After the seniors have been robed and the ceremony has concluded, there’s one more important thing to do: eat. Lunch will be offered on King Quad if weather permits. In the case of poor weather, the food will be served in Anna Irving Dining Hall.