In 1896, the community of Montevallo was selected as the site for a new state educational institution. The school opened on October 12 in Reynolds Hall, an 1851 building that still houses classrooms and offices. Each year, the second Thursday of October is still celebrated on campus as Founders’ Day.
The focus of this annual event is the convocation, during which the robing of the seniors and the Omicron Delta Kappa tapping take place. Additionally, five awards are presented, including the University Scholar Award, the Faculty Service Award, the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, the Outstanding Staff Service Award, and the Alumnus Loyalty Award.
The day concludes with the annual Life Raft Debate, an event that pits faculty member against faculty member— with occasional staff and administrators in the mix — in a debate for survival as the recipient of the last seat on the raft following an imaginary nuclear war. The audience members are in the boat, and they decide by voting who gets to join them and who is left to sink or swim at the end of what is always a lively debate by the panelists.