Community, university leaders gather for Founders Day

Lydia Jacobson and Caroline Stainback

The university celebrated its fifth annual Founders Day Tuesday. The day was filled with activities from discussing the university’s history to a walking tour of the Boone Cemetery. 

Starting with a poster exhibition in Plemmons Student Union, faculty, students and community members presented on the history of the university and the community of Boone. 

“It’s important to know what college you’re going to, the history of it and how far we’ve come,” said Jackie Rullman, a junior history major.

Rullman showcased a poster board titled “Women in the Dorms” presenting her research on what life was like for women at App State from 1906-72. Rullman explained the restrictions women faced on what they could wear and where they could go while living in the dorms.  

Sep. 6, 2022, Historian Trent Margrif, a senior lecturer for the General Education Program at Appalachian State uses historical documents and notes to explain the significance of the graveyard located by Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. (Brice Fry)

Another presenter, Tracie Salinas, is the director of the Math and Science Education Center, as well as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much was going on in North Carolina in the ‘70s and ‘80s related to STEM education,” Salinas said. 

Her poster board displayed the development of the Math and Science Education Center and the impact it had on the region. 

“Founders Day helps us to remember what our values are, connecting us back to the original purposes of the university,” Salinas said. “I think our push for sustainability as a campus and our focus on education, teacher preparation and so on, are big indicators of what those values were, and things like Founders Day help us to refocus on those.”

Following the poster exhibition, Chancellor Sheri Everts introduced a panel discussion with Women Trailblazers. The event honored highly respected women at App State.

“It is fitting to use the metaphors of a ‘trail’ and a ‘path’ in this context,” Everts said. “Not just because of our mountain heritage and our location, but also, because of our founding mission of access to education.” 

The 12 Women Trailblazers were recognized for their time and contributions to App State, and some of them were panelists who shared fond memories of their time at the university.  

Following the Women Trailblazers panel, the start of Founders Day ceremony began. This entailed an annual ice cream social prior to the inductions into the Bell Ringers Society.

A speech was given by Karl Campbell, recognizing this year’s Women Trailblazers. He announced the names of Chancellor Sheri Everts, Provost Heather Norris, App State’s academic officer; Carol Almond; Carolyn Anderson; Karolyn Martin, Miss North Carolina; Maggie McFadden, Dawn Medlin, Mary Moretz, Kay Norwood, Travis Triplett and Jan Watson.

This year Everts presented the new sculpture of founder D.D. Dougherty. This was the fourth and final stage of the completion of Founders Plaza. Founders Plaza is located near the recognizable sign welcoming visitors to App State in Durham Park.

A tomb located in the Boone cemetery displays a list of names of African American men and women buried in the cemetery. The white-colored indicators in the ground represent a person from the list of names who is buried in the cemetery. (Brice Fry)

“It is important to acknowledge where we came from, to celebrate where we’re going and be together and kind of acknowledge where the university began and all the things that have brought us where we are today,” said Karolyn Martin, App State alum and Miss North Carolina.

Everts followed Campbell’s speech by commencing the bell ringing tradition, where she rang the Founder’s Bell seven times starting off the induction ceremony. She then began inducting this year’s new members of the Bell Ringers Society.

The final event of the day was held at the Boone Cemetery. This event was titled Tombstone Tails and led by historian Trent Margrif. This event included a walking tour which explored the lives and history of notable, local and university women who are buried there.

Mia Seligman helped contribute to this article.