An appropriate smattering of people — safely distanced and sporting a variety of colorful and App State black and gold face coverings — gathered at Founders Plaza Thursday, Sept. 3, for the third annual Appalachian State University Founders Day celebration.
Many more watched the livestream broadcast by AppTV as two bell ringers commemorated the 121-year anniversary of the first day of classes at Watauga Academy in 1899. Watauga Academy was the educational institution founded by B.B. Dougherty, D.D. Dougherty and Lillie Schull Dougherty that evolved to become a state university in 1967.
Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “This past year has presented unimaginable challenges for our university. Yet, in spite of the uncertainties of a global pandemic, the Appalachian Community has rallied together to find every opportunity to create a positive experience for our students and move our university forward. Mountaineer spirit continues to prevail — as it has for more than a century.”
A cool breeze kept the black-eyed Susans dancing on a near-perfect afternoon in the High Country as Donna Fiori, Appalachian Alumni Council president, introduced the two inductees of the 2020 class of Appalachian’s Bell Ringers Society: Dr. Baker Perry, the great-great-grandson of D.D. Dougherty and professor in Appalachian’s Department of Geography and Planning, and Dr. Karl Campbell, associate professor in Appalachian’s Department of History, chair of the university’s History Committee and adviser for Founders Day historical activities.
The tradition of ringing the Founders Bell, an iconic symbol of Appalachian’s history, was established Sept. 5, 2019, as the university celebrated its second annual Founders Day. Twelve members of the Appalachian Community were selected to ring the bell nine times each to signify the university’s 120th anniversary as an innovator and leader in higher education. These 12 bell ringers were the inaugural members of Appalachian’s Bell Ringers Society. New members are inducted into the society each year to ring the bell on Founders Day.
This year, the chancellor, Perry and Campbell each rang the bell seven times. Both inductees received bell ringer pins from Everts.
In her opening remarks, Everts noted, “We are working to tell a fuller history of our university — and of those who helped make it the institution it is now. We are also collectively examining our past and our present, and making needed changes to ensure the Appalachian Experience is inclusive and creates a legacy of which we can all be proud.”
In concluding remarks by Student Government Association President Michael Davis, a senior majoring in political science from Wilkesboro, Davis affirmed the university’s ability to sustain. “The past truly does build the foundation for the future, and I think the resilience that App State has shown this summer and in the beginning of this semester proves that when Mountaineers work together we can overcome any obstacle,” he said.