Founding Day

Emory & Henry annually observes Founding 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.

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.

Watch the 2024 Founding Day Livestream on YouTube

Citation Recipients 

Each year the College recognizes individuals with a service citation as a part of Founders Day observance.

A complete listing of past citation recipients is available here.

Distinctive Alumni Awards

The College also recognizes several alumni awards as a part of Founders Day observance as well. 

More information about Alumni Awards can be found here. 

Past Founding Day Videos

Watch videos of past Founding Day convocations honoring alumni and community members. Congratulations!

Founders Day 2019