News Staff Writer
Festivities and events to celebrate and recognize the founding of UNC Asheville will continue throughout the 2017-2018 academic year. Founders Day marked the 90-year anniversary of the first day classes started at UNCA in 1927.
Students, alumni, professors and former faculty and staff celebrated Founders Day last Tuesday with cupcakes, ice cream from The Hop and a photo booth in the Grotto. Kayla Dunn, a new media senior and intern to the director of university events, helped plan the Founders Day celebration.
“It’s really monumental that our university is 90 years old. I mean, because some universities start up and they don’t really do well. So to know that our university is 90 years old and that it’s a public liberal arts university is really important,” Dunn said.
The university started in 1927 as Buncombe County Junior College and was later renamed Asheville-Biltmore College. The campus moved to UNCA’s current location in 1961. Michael Davis, the executive of diversity and inclusion for SGA, said it is valuable to know the history of the university.
“It’s very important that we, as an institution, know where we came from and where we’re going. And so to see how it all started and who had the vision and just see it grow and people run with what was originally started, I think it’s absolutely amazing. And so it means a lot to me because I like to know where I’m about to go,” Davis said.
The idea for a college in Asheville came in 1927 from the Biltmore School Committee and A. C. Reynolds, the Buncombe County superintendent. Since the founding 90 years ago, UNCA ranked as number seven of the top Public Liberal Arts colleges in the nation, according to the U.S. News and World Report.
Merritt Moseley, former professor and chair of the English department, was part of the 90th anniversary committee and helped at Founders Day.
“Well, I believe knowing something about your history is important. Not that we’re telling people a lot about the history, but it’s important to celebrate the founding of the university,” Moseley said. “I mean, we’ve come a real long way. The university was founded as a community college in the basement of the school board.”
Celebrating the foundation of UNCA annually allows the campus community to learn about the past, enjoy the moment and look forward to the future. The tradition of a Founders Day celebration started in 1997. During the Founders Day celebration in 2004, Anderson Cooper was the keynote speaker. Cooper has ties to the Asheville area because he is related to the Vanderbilts who were responsible for building the Biltmore.
“The students loved it because in those days they had something in high schools called Channel 1, which was TV in every room and they had news,” Moseley said. “Anderson Cooper was the guy. They were thrilled about that.”
David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times will give the keynote speech for Founders Day on Oct.12. Brooks’s speech was postponed on Founders Day due to Hurricane Irma. Founders Day events of the past were not as large compared to the celebration this year, Dunn said.
“So last year we just had a small little thing on the quad just to celebrate. Nothing’s been like this, so we just had small events,” Dunn said. “For this year, we wanted to go all out since it was our 90th anniversary.”
The recent Founders Day celebration could not be held on the quad due to bad weather conditions. The Hop served ice cream at the celebration on Sept. 12, serving special UNCA flavors, Bulldog Tracks and Espresso No. 7, which was created for Chancellor Grant. Moseley said UNCA holds a strong relationship with The Hop, as two alumni own the business.
“I think it’s a wonderful relationship. It’s run by two of our graduates, who won the award as distinguished alumni three years ago,” Moseley said. “They’re just wonderful people who are supportive of all sorts of different kinds of causes.”
Greg and Ashley Garrison were recipients of the Order of the Pisgah for Alumni Achievement in 2015. The Garrisons showed support for their alma mater by attending Founders Day with The Hop.
Davis thinks it is important to know the past of your university and know about its future.
“Learn where the institution started, where it originated from, how it has evolved to making it a safe environment and people environment, not only for people who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, but those that just vary within knowledge and what they know and where they’re going,” Davis said.