UM celebrates Founders’ Day

Published 10:26 am Friday, October 13, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – On Monday, Oct. 9, three Montevallo students, Cole Swain, Rachel Johnson and Lucy Frost-Helms, found the Crook in Myrick Hall and officially kicked off the week of Founders’ Day.

UM’s Founders’ Day is a celebration of the University’s 127 year commitment to higher education and has several traditions, including the “Hiding of the Crook.”

Founder’s Day officially took place on Thursday, Oct. 12 and celebrates the founding of the University of Montevallo. However, the week of each Founder’s Day begins with hiding the “crook,” a large wooden walking stick carved with the names of those who have found it in years past.

This tradition was established in 1926, when Montevallo was still a women’s college, by seniors who felt the juniors needed to transition from a junior to an “exalted senior.” The upperclassmen then hid the Crook somewhere on campus for the juniors to find. 

Little of the tradition has changed over the 90 years since the “Hiding of the Crook” began.

Another major tradition that takes place on Founders’ Day is the investiture of the Senior Class, which marked the first time Seniors could officially don their black graduation robes.

Seniors walked across the Main Quad with their black gowns in hand and piled into Palmer Auditorium for Convocation, where they heard an address from Montevallo Alum Julia Maloney.

“Her point was, ‘You’re always going to win and lose in life,” said Montevallo President Dr. John Stewart. “‘Learn from the losses. They define you more than the wins do.’”

At Convocation’s end, Seniors finally donned their black robes to the applause of their family and friends and in celebration of everything the senior class has accomplished thus far. 

“We have a lot of students who are the first person in their family to go to college, and we’re really proud of the transformation that they have experienced here,” Stewart said.

Founders’ Day’s convocation was then followed by a reception honoring Dr. Jason Newell, professor, social work program director, and the newly named inaugural chair of the 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. 

Other events taking place on Founders’ Day included a dedication to the Song Center for the Arts and the official campaign launch of MomentUM.

Founders’ Day officially concluded at 5:30 p.m., following an awards reception and dinner honoring Outstanding Staff Service, Outstanding Commitment to Teaching and Mary Lou Elder Williams Alumni Loyalty award recipients at the Anna Irvin Dining Hall. 

“Our faculty are really high level,” Stewart said. “They’re distinguished. They’re accomplished. They are ultra devoted to our students’ success and outcomes. I think that they set us apart, I think our intimate atmosphere and our dedication to remaining a small college and doing what we do really, really well.”