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Founders Day Convocation
Memorial Chapel at Emory & Henry College —
30461 Garnand Dr, Emory, VA 24327
Emory & Henry annually observes Founders Day to celebrate the founding of the College and those individuals and groups whose efforts were instrumental in establishing Southwest Virginia’s first institution of higher education.
This year's event will be held March 24, 2016 at 11:15 a.m. in Memorial Chapel. The keynote speaker will be Dr. James L. Waits, professor emeritus of practical theology and former dean of Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.
A luncheon will follow the convocation in the Mason Fellowship Hall. The luncheon program will include a special recognition of the members of The Society of 1836. A reservation is required.
As a young Methodist minister in Mississippi in 1962, Waits helped draft a statement dubbed "Born of Conviction," which called for greater racial tolerance at a time when advocating such a view in the Deep South was a potentially dangerous endeavor. The efforts and response that ensured were chronicled in "Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi's Closed Society," by Dr. Joe Reiff, Emory & Henry professor of religion.
Initial planning for the founding of Emory & Henry began in October 1835, when members of the Holston Conference of the Methodist Church voted to establish a college in the region. By January 1, 1836, the site had been selected, and the cornerstone for the first building was laid September 30, 1836, at a founding celebration. Classes began in the spring of 1838.
Four area individuals are credited with raising funds and choosing the site for the College. Tobias Smyth, a local farmer and enthusiastic Methodist lay person; the Reverend Creed Fulton, a circuit-riding Methodist minister from Grayson County, Virginia; Colonel William Byars, a distinguished Presbyterian lay person from Glade Spring, Virginia; and Alexander Findlay, a successful business entrepreneur from Abingdon, Virginia.
In acknowledgment of the four community members who founded Emory & Henry College and to recognize those persons and institutions making significant contributions to the region today, the College presents citations as part of the Founders Day ceremony.