1000 x 90

Appalachian State Founders Day Celebration to Take Place on September 5

Appalachian State University’s Founders Plaza, located at the university’s main entrance off Hardin Street. Visible to the left in the background is a new addition — an architectural reproduction of the roofline and bell steeple of Watauga Academy, the school that evolved into Appalachian State University. Photo by Marie Freeman

Appalachian State University will host its annual Founders Day celebration with a full slate of events, including music and refreshments on Sanford Mall, presentations about the university’s history, a panel discussion with a former Chancellor and prior university administrators, the dedication of a new statue and the induction of inaugural members into the Bell Ringers Society.

Appalachian faculty, staff, and students, as well as the public, are invited to attend.

“Appalachian State University has a 120-year legacy of educational leadership,” Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “What began as Watauga Academy in 1899 has flourished into Appalachian State University — the premier, public undergraduate university in North Carolina. Our graduates go on to staff critical workforce areas and develop into engaged global leaders who are shaping the world around us. I am proud of all we have accomplished and I look forward to continued innovation by our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.”

In 2018, the university began a new tradition of holding a formal Founders Day ceremony at Founders Plaza. This annual event recognizes the anniversary of the first classes held at Watauga Academy in 1899 and honors the founders of Appalachian State University — B.B. Dougherty, D.D. Dougherty, and Lillie Shull Dougherty.

This year, the university is inviting selected members of the Appalachian Community to ring the Founders Bell during the ceremony. The university’s Founders Bell was relocated from its former display outside Anne Belk Hall to a newly constructed pavilion on Founders Plaza, a structure designed to mirror the original architecture of Watauga Academy.

The individuals who ring the bell will become the inaugural inductees of the Bell Ringers Society.

The Founders Bell is an enduring symbol of Appalachian State University’s past, present, and future. Photo by Marie Freeman

Chancellor Everts and Doris Stam, the great-granddaughter of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty, will give remarks at the event, which will also include the unveiling of a commemorative statue of Lillie Shull Dougherty. The artwork was donated by William H. Brown Jr., the great-grandson of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty, and sculpted by local artist Suzie Hallier.

Lillie Shull Dougherty was the third pillar in the founding of Watauga Academy and an essential leader in creating what would become Appalachian State University. An experienced educator, she joined D.D. and B.B. Dougherty in teaching classes and contributed to administrative decisions. She helped start the home economics, music, and industrial arts departments. She also organized community groups, managed the president’s house and created a welcoming environment for students and guests of the school. After her husband’s death in 1929, she served as Appalachian’s business manager and treasurer until her retirement in 1938.

On Founders Day 2018, the university debuted Founders Plaza with a new double-sided granite sign for the university, seating areas and a more prominent location for the existing B.B. Dougherty statue. At that time, Chancellor Everts directed the creation of a university history committee, which is chaired by Dr. Karl Campbell, associate professor in Appalachian’s Department of History. The committee collects, studies and disseminates university history through events and curricula.

As part of this year’s Founders Day, the history committee will hold a two-part University History Exhibition in Plemmons Student Union. The Research Showcase will include a dozen poster presentations on Appalachian’s history presented by faculty, staff and students, more than half of whom have integrated video into their presentations. Poster topics range from educational innovation and the evolution of student services to electricity and local lore.

The showcase will be followed by a panel discussion with former Chancellor Dr. John Thomas and previous Appalachian administrators who will share stories about Appalachian in the 1970s and 1980s.

The university will also host a campus celebration on Sanford Mall with complimentary food, music, and prizes.