October 5th is the day we celebrate Founders Day and the opening of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) in 1892. Here are some fun UNCG Founders Day trivia facts for you!
- On October 12, 1909, the first official Founder’s Day was dedicated to the memory of State Normal founder and President Charles Duncan McIver, who had passed away three years prior. Alumnae met in groups across the state, and students placed wreaths on his grave in Green Hill Cemetery. In a letter to alumnae, the Alumnae Association wrote, “We hope that such a day may help the students to understand and appreciate the life work of Dr. Charles D. McIver, the founder and first president of our college. This day will also help impress upon them their relation to the state. For the opportunities offered at a State’s College they must as good and useful citizens give their best efforts and services to the state.”
- In 1911, the date of the event was moved to October 5th in celebration of the day in which classes first began at State Normal in 1892.
|Wreath laying at McIver grave site in Green Hill Cemetery in 1939
- In 1912, the McIver Statue was dedicated on Founder’s Day. It originally stood in front of the McIver Memorial Building [site of the current McIver Building], but was moved to its current location in front of Jackson Library in the late 1950s.
- In 1942, during the 50th anniversary celebration, the Litany of Commemoration for Founders Day by Josephine Hege was first introduced.
- The 1948 Founder’s Day ceremony was the first to be broadcast on the radio. Other programs throughout the 1950s were also carried and distributed statewide by local radio station WFMY.
- 1955 is the first reference we can find in the archives to the Founder’s Day ceremony being televised. L. Richardson Preyer delivered the annual Founder’s Day address, and it was televised live on WUNC-TV.
- 1955 is also the first year that a wreath was placed at the McIver statue. Previously, the wreath-laying ceremony was only at the McIver grave site in Green Hill Cemetery.
|Wreath laying at McIver statue on campus in 1957
- In 1958, the address given as part of the Founder’s Day ceremony was officially named the McIver Lecture. Dr. Frank Porter Graham, first president of the UNC Consolidated System and, at the time, U.N. Representative for Pakistan and India, delivered the first McIver Lecture.
- On Founder’s Day in 1959, a cornerstone from the previous McIver Memorial Building (razed in 1958) was laid to start construction on the new (current) McIver Building.
- In the early 1970s, Founder’s Day was encompassed within a larger “Falderal” celebration. Falderal also included a campus-wide lunch, a soccer game, celebrations on the Quad, and fireworks.
- The 1973 Founder’s Day celebration featured a 48-foot long cake that weighed in at 900 pounds (300 pounds of icing alone!). There was also a hula hoop contest, a live band, and other activities.
|Serving of the giant cake at Founder’s Day in 1973
- In 1977, the Alumni Association launched a McIver Conference, usually a two-day conference featuring lectures by faculty, alumni, and other scholars on art, architecture, and history.
- Around 1980, the text for the programs and other references switch from “Founder’s Day” (singular) to “Founders’ Day” (plural). In University Archives, we have a copy of a program from Founders’ Day in 1980 where an alumna circled the apostrophe and wrote “I thought this was a typographical error.”
- The McIver Medal was established by the UNCG Board of Trustees in 1983 to recognize “distinguished public service to the state or nation performed by a North Carolinian.” It was first awarded in 1985 during the Founders’ Day program.
- 1989 is when the apostrophe was dropped and we went from “Founders’ Day” to “Founders Day.” All official references since have been apostrophe-free.
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