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October 17, 2017

University of Montevallo celebrates 121st Founders’ Day

On Oct. 12, the University of Montevallo community gathered to celebrate 121 years as an institution of higher learning. Originally founded on Oct. 12, 1896 as the Alabama Girls’ Industrial School, UM has developed over the course of a century into the state’s premiere public liberal arts institution.

The theme of Founders’ Day this year was “Find an Inspiration, then Become One,” which called for the UM community to reflect on the on-campus figures and organizations that helped them find success and to continue that support with leading by example.

The festivities began at 11 a.m. when the University faculty and senior class marched into Palmer Auditorium for the annual convocation. This yearly ceremony includes a celebration of the founding of UM, the robing of the seniors and the honoring of outstanding faculty, staff and alumni.

Dr. Karen Snowden, professor and associate department head for teaching programs at Texas A&M’s School of Veterinary Medicine, delivered the keynote address. A UM alumna from the class of 1974, Snowden’s speech centered around four phrases of wisdom lifted from a sentimental card she gave one of her latest graduate students.

Shortly after Snowden’s speech, the recipients of the National Alumni Association and Academic Affairs awards were recognized. This year’s award winners were as follows:

2017 University Scholar-Dr. John Bawden

Faculty Service Award-Dr. Houston Byrd

Academic Advising Award-Dr. Deborah Lowry

Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award-Dr. Mary Ann Gray

Outstanding Staff Service Award-Ms. Tonja Battle

Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award-Dr. Sherry Ford

Mary Lou Elder Williams Alumnus Loyalty Award-Mr. Michael Grainger

After the conclusion of the award presentation, University Provost Dr. Jim McDonald took the stage to begin the investiture of the senior class. He lead the seniors in the University pledge, after which the students were allowed to don their graduation robes for the first time.

Once the convocation concluded, faculty, staff, students, alumni and guests were invited to attend a luncheon held in Anna Irvin Dining Hall.

The 121st Founders’ Day also featured the ribbon cutting for the Pat Scales Special Collections Room. Located on the top floor of UM’s Carmichael Library, the newly constructed space will house one of the largest collection of children’s literature in the south. The materials were donated by UM alumna Pat Scales ’66, who has served as an extraordinary advocate for children’s literature and intellectual freedoms.