Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, the format for the University’s 124th Founders’ Day on Oct. 8 was unlike any before it. However, its purpose of celebrating this year’s seniors and UM’s more than a century of making a difference in students’ lives remained unchanged.
The theme of this year’s Founders’ Day was “Building for the Future: Strong and Resilient” and focused on everything the Montevallo family has done to overcome the challenges of the past several months to continue the University’s mission of producing educated, well-rounded and engaged members of the community.
Because of social distancing guidelines, this year’s Founders’ Day ceremony was filmed in advance in Palmer Hall and across campus following the day’s traditional agenda, and broadcast on the University’s Youtube channel on the morning of Oct. 8.
“Returning students, we know this was a massive upheaval in your college career,” President Stewart said during the ceremony. “One day, all was as it should be, and the next you were frantically adjusting to different classroom and living conditions. Even still, you succeeded, and that is a powerful testament to your character and your liberal arts training. Although we are not together today, we are bound together by this very special institution.”
The virtual ceremony included a reflection on UM’s storied history and featured new additions such as the Center for the Arts and the new Stephens College of Business building, which are helping to prepare Montevallo for the future.
Dr. Mary Beth Armstrong, provost and vice president for academic affairs, led the investiture of the senior class, and invited all seniors to don their robes for the first time as they watched the virtual ceremony.
Seniors were also invited to visit a large photo frame installed in front of Palmer Hall between Oct. 7-9, and were encouraged to share their snapshots on social media.
Another cherished Founders’ Day tradition, the Hiding of the Crook, also took place virtually this year. The Founders’ Day Committee hid the latest iteration of the Crook, a large wooden walking stick carved with the names of students who have found it in past years, somewhere on campus and posted clues about its location on UM social media accounts. Students then emailed their location answers to the chair of the committee.
Irelan Childress was the first to accurately name the location of the Crook, which was in Anna Crawford Milner Archives in Carmichael Library.
Founders’ Day also served to honor several individuals who have shown exemplary support for the University.
Three UM faculty were honored during the ceremony:
2020 University Scholar: Dr. Tiffany Wang, associate professor of communication studies
Faculty Service Award: Dr. Raymond Ozley, associate professor of communication studies
Adjunct Teaching Award: Dr. Joseph Ortiguera, adjunct faculty in the Department of Music
UM National Alumni Association President Cynthia Todd ’88 also honored three individuals selected by the UMNAA Board of Directors:
Outstanding Staff Service Award: Coty Jones, director of UM Physical Plant
Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award: Collin Williams, professor of art
Mary Lou Elder Williams Alumna Loyalty Award: Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield ’62