December 6, 2023

UM Founders' Day Recognizes 127 Years of Forward Momentum

The University community convened on Oct. 12 to celebrate the institution’s 127-year history on Founders’ Day. This year’s theme was “Momentum,” which rang true as the day’s events recognized various forward strides that the University is taking.

Keynote speaker with Dr. John W. Stewart on the Palmer Hall stage on Founders' DayThe festivities began with the morning convocation, where the senior class donned their graduation robes for the first time in front of their friends, families and UM faculty and staff in Palmer Auditorium. President Stewart expressed his high hopes for the graduating class and for their generation. “In so many ways, I think you’re better than my age group was at your age,” he said. “You’re more altruistic, less materialistic and you care about people who don’t look like you more than my generation. I look forward to hearing about what you’re doing in the world, and I hope you’ll always come back and peek your head into Calkins Hall and say hello to us.”

The ceremony continued with an address from keynote speaker Julia Maloney, who graduated in 2013 and now works as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Maloney spoke about her interpretation of the “Momentum” theme, explaining to the senior class that their path forward would not always be smooth and their momentum would not always build in a steady, constant fashion.

“Life is not just success, it’s also failure,” Maloney said. “There will be starts and stops. There will be problems. You will know de- feat. But today is a great success. You all have made it so far. Momentum is on your side.”

Following her address, President Stewart presented Maloney with the President’s Award as a distinguished attorney and alum. As part of Founders’ Day tradition, several faculty and staff members were honored for their achievements and work to better the University:

• Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, associate professor of psychology and clinical psychologist, was honored as the 2023 University Scholar.

• Dr. Susan Caplow, associate professor of environmental studies and chair of the Sustainability Committee, received the Dr. Jermaine B. Mitchell Faculty Service Award.

• Dr. Lynn Kirkland of the College of Education & Human Development received the Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award.

• Johnny D. Holsombeck, former manager of the physical plant warehouse, posthumously received the inaugural Johnny D. Holsombeck Shine Award.

The ceremony also recognized this year’s recipients of the UM National Alumni Association awards, who were also honored at the UMNAA Awards Dinner later that night.

Social Work Chair Reception

A reception was held in the afternoon at Fallin Hall for Dr. Jason Newell, who was recently selected as the inaugural Dr. Jeanine Cannon Bozeman Chair of Social Work in memory of Mr. Henry Oliver Cannon, Mrs. Ruby Rowell Cannon, Dr. Thomas Welby Bozeman and Dr. Jeanine Cannon Bozeman.

Dr. Wallace Davis, estate executor and lifelong friend of the Bozemans, explained that Dr. Jeanine Cannon Bozeman, who graduated from UM in 1951 and went on to have a fruitful career in social work and teaching, had a passion for people, and saw the value of taking tragedy and turning it into something good and helpful.

Newell spoke about going to meet Boz- eman with Executive Director of Advancement Kelli J. Holmes MBA ’18, and said he intends to fulfill her wishes of the gift. Her wishes were to continue the successful operation of UM’s Social Work Program, support social work education for students in need with special designation to those from the Dozier or the Wiregrass region, provide mental health resources for students in the area of grief work and establish an annual lecture series regarding death, dying and grief.

“It’s my great pleasure in every way and I’m very humbled to be selected to carry this mantle,” Newell said. “It’s a charge that I take very seriously. Thank you so much.”

Alan and Lindsey Song Center for the Arts Dedication and Campaign Launch

Later in the afternoon, guests headed over to the Alan and Lindsey Song Center for the Arts for a ribbon cutting ceremony where the center would officially be dedicated and renamed in honor of Alan and Lindsey ’06 Song. The Songs gave the keynote address at Spring Commencement in May, where they pledged a substantial gift to the University that would provide scholarships to students with financial need, as well as rename the building.

Following the ribbon cutting, the crowd ventured inside the William and Jeanetta Corbett Keller Lobby of the Alan and Lindsey Song Center for the Arts to celebrate the launch of the public phase of UM’s Comprehensive Campaign, “MomentUM.” With this campaign, the University aims to raise $30 million, including the Songs’ $1 million gift to the campaign.

“Thank you so much to everyone at the University of Montevallo,” Alan Song said. “We are definitely where we belong.”

UMNAA Awards Dinner

In the evening, generations worth of alum- ni, University administration and friends gathered in Anna Irvin Dining Hall to dine and socialize at the UM National Alumni Association Awards Dinner. The UMNAA celebrated their award recipients from the morning convocation.

Kira Thomas ’12, director of University Marketing & Communications, received the Outstanding Staff Service Award. Dr. Jason Newell received the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. Dr. Susan Vaughn ’71, professor emerita of social work, received the Mary Lou Elder Williams Alumni Loyalty Award.

The event also recognized this year’s 15 Within 15 class, a collection of driven UM graduates (bachelor’s or master’s) who have demonstrated leadership and passion within the first 15 years after earning their degree.