App State Celebrates Founders Day and 120 Years of Education Leadership

Published Monday, September 9, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Chancellor Sheri Everts speaks to the crowd at the second annual Founders Day Ceremony in Founders Plaza Sept. 5. Photo by Marie Freeman

By Linda Coutant

The campus and local community celebrated Appalachian State University’s 120-year legacy of educational leadership with the second annual Founders Day celebration Sept. 5.

The day included dedication of the Lillie Shull Dougherty statue, the ringing of the Founders Bell, a panel discussion with past leaders, and research by faculty, staff and students.

“What began as Watauga Academy in the late 1800s has flourished into Appalachian State University — the premier, public undergraduate university in North Carolina,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said at the afternoon Founders Day Ceremony in Founders Plaza.

“The principles set forth by our founders have guided us to be the forward-thinking university we are today. Examining our past reminds us of our resiliency and our commitment to increasing access to education for all.”

Founders Day honors the first day of classes at Watauga Academy in 1899 and recognizes founders B.B. and D.D. Dougherty, who were brothers, and Lillie Shull Dougherty, wife of D.D. Dougherty.

“Appalachian’s values and commitments have persisted for well beyond a century: a life-changing educational experience, an appreciation of our surroundings, preservation of our resources and the enduring qualities of generosity and mutual respect that bind the Appalachian Community,” Everts said.

Chancellor Sheri Everts, poised between the statues of two of the three co-founders of the school that would become Appalachian State University: Lillie Shull Dougherty, in foreground, and her brother-in-law B.B. Dougherty. Photo by Marie Freeman

Lillie Shull Dougherty statue

Each year, the university adds a new layer of purpose and meaning to Founders Day, according to Everts. This year included dedication of a new statue at Founders Plaza honoring the vision, commitment and persistence of Lillie Shull Dougherty, now acknowledged as “the third pillar” in the founding of Watauga Academy.

“There were three, not two, co-founders of Appalachian State University,” said Doris Stam, great-granddaughter of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty, who spoke at the dedication.

Stam explained how Lillie Shull Dougherty arrived in Boone in 1899 at age 24, married with a one-year-old child, with a plan to teach some music classes part time. However, she became a full-time working mother, teaching the younger children at Watauga Academy while her husband, Dauph, taught the older students.

“As would be the theme of her life, Lillie saw the problem, filled the gap and met the need, whatever it was, without being paid to do it,” Stam said.

Lillie managed the president’s house and hosted many guests, often unexpectedly. She had a hand in business decisions, and after her husband’s death in 1929, served as Appalachian’s business manager and treasurer until 1938. She also cared for her brother-in-law B.B. Dougherty, a lifelong bachelor, until her death in 1945.

“While the life of Lillie Shull Dougherty simply cannot be measured by her visible achievements as teacher or business manager at Appalachian, or even the decades of entertaining, less apparent and more lasting was her steadfastness of purpose to serve, and the integrity of her character in doing it,” Stam said.

Everts added, “Lillie’s influence is woven throughout the fabric of this special place. … From her advancement of academic programs to her leadership in community organizations, she set the tone for Appalachian to be viewed as a catalyst for change in education and as a friendly, respectful neighbor to the town, region and state.”

The sculpture was donated by William H. Brown Jr., the great-grandson of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty, and crafted by local artist Suzie Hallier. Everts called the piece “a truly stunning statue that is a venerable tribute to a wise woman.”

Former Chancellor John E. Thomas pulls the clapper rope to ring Founders Bell during the Founders Day Ceremony Sept. 5. Photo by Marie Freeman

Bell Ringers Society

Twelve people were inducted into the new Bell Ringers Society and rang the Founders Bell housed in the new Founders Bell Pavilion. As chair of the university’s history committee, Dr. Karl Campbell of the Department of History introduced each bell ringer and his or her connection to Appalachian. Each received a commemorative pin and rang the Founders Bell nine times.

“You honor our university with your service and dedication,” Campbell told the inaugural members.

To those attending the ceremony, including current and former faculty, staff, students and community members, Campbell said, “Collectively, those of us here today represent Appalachian’s past, present and future,” and encouraged all to recommit themselves to the vision of Appalachian’s founders.

Inaugural members of the Bell Ringers Society were:

  • Dr. John Thomas.
  • Reba Moretz ’52 ’53.
  • Julia Adams ’56.
  • Doris Stam.
  • Philip Byers ’85.
  • John Blackburn
  • Jerry Moore.
  • Penn Broyhill.
  • Jeannine Underdown Collins ’79 ’81.
  • Dr. Rennie Brantz.
  • Sammy Hartley ’72 ’73.
  • Dejon Milbourne.

“On Founders Day and henceforth, the bell’s rich tone will echo throughout campus, calling out to Mountaineers who, like you, believe deeply in Appalachian’s mission to educate and engage,” Everts said.

About the Bell Ringers Society

A new tradition at Appalachian State University — the ringing of 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 10 times each to signify the university’s 120th anniversary as an innovator and leader in higher education. These 12 bell ringers are 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.

About Founders Day

Appalachian State University celebrates Founders Day on Sept. 5 to honor the university’s founders — B.B. Dougherty, D.D. Dougherty and Lillie Shull Dougherty — and the first day of classes at Watauga Academy in 1899. Appalachian began this annual tradition in 2018 with the dedication of Founders Plaza, a touchstone to the university’s early days that is located at the campus entrance on Hardin Street.

About Appalachian State University

As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Appalachian’s mascot Yosef was on hand for Founders Day activities on Sanford Mall. Pictured with him is sophomore psychology major Faith Fleming. Photo by Marie Freeman

During Founders Day activities on Sanford Mall Sept. 5, sophomore students Roxanna Sanchez and Alvaro Guzman hold up special T-shirts commemorating the 120th anniversary of the first classes at Watauga Academy, the school that would become Appalachian State University. Photo by Marie Freeman

Former Chancellor John E. Thomas smiles during a university history panel discussion held in Plemmons Student Union as part of Founders Day Sept. 5. With him are former Provost and Acting Chancellor Harvey R. Durham, foreground, and history professor Dr. Andrea Burns, who moderated the discussion of what Appalachian was like in the 1970s and 1980s. Photo by Marie Freeman

Listening during the Founders Day Ceremony at Founders Plaza are, from left, former Chancellor John E. Thomas, Reba Moretz ’52 ’53, Julia Adams ’56, Doris Stam, Philip Byers ’85 and John Blackburn. All were among the 12 people who rang the Founders Bell as inaugural members of the Bell Ringers Society. Photo by Marie Freeman

Chancellor Sheri Everts speaks to the crowd during the Founders Day Ceremony Sept. 5. Photo by Marie Freeman

Chancellor Sheri Everts pins a commemorative Bell Ringers Society pin on Student Government Association President Dejon Milbourne before he takes his turn ringing the Founders Bell as a member of the Bell Ringers Society. Photo by Marie Freeman

Chancellor Sheri Everts shares a laugh with former Chancellor John E. Thomas in the Founders Bell Pavilion during Founders Day Sept. 5. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Local artist Suzie Hallier, left, and William H. Brown Jr. stand in Founders Plaza before the newly dedicated statute of Lillie Shull Dougherty. Dougherty, her husband D.D. and brother-in-law B.B. were the three pillars in the founding of Watauga Academy. Brown is the great-grandson of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty and donated the artwork created by Hallier. Photo by Chase Reynolds

Dr. Karl Campbell, associate professor of history and chair of Appalachian’s history committee, speaks before the crowd during the Founders Day Ceremony Sept. 5. Photo by Chase Reynolds

William H. Brown Jr., great-grandson of D.D. and Lillie Shull Dougherty, connects with senior art education major Hunter Koch over her Appalachian history research during the Research Showcase held in Plemmons Student Union. Current faculty, staff and students presented a dozen poster sessions sharing history of Appalachian, with topics ranging from educational innovation and the evolution of student services to electricity and local lore. Photo by Marie Freeman

Chancellor Sheri Everts talks with senior history major Claire Parrish about her research during the Research Showcase held in Plemmons Student Union as part of Founders Day activities Sept. 5. A dozen poster sessions related to Appalachian’s history were shared by faculty, staff and students, with topics ranging from educational innovation and the evolution of student services to electricity and local lore. Photo by Marie Freeman

Sophomore Victoria Kelley was among students painting cups during Founders Day activities on Sanford Mall Sept. 5 Photo by Chase Reynolds

Founders Day festivities Sept. 5 included free food on Sanford Mall. Photo by Marie Freeman

Dougherty family historian Doris Stam, right, stands before the crowd at Founders Day Ceremony Sept. 5. She led the singing of the Alma Mater and spoke during the ceremony about the life of Lillie Shull Dougherty and her impact as a co-founder of Watauga Academy, the school that would become Appalachian State University. Stam was also an inaugural member of the Bell Ringers Society. Photo by Chase Reynolds

 

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