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Founder Day draws hundreds of students, alumni to celebrate with parade, ceremony

By Staff | Oct 4, 2019

The Shepherd University Ram Band marches down King Street, during the Founder Day Procession and Banner Competition on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Michelle Lawson helped the Rams’ mascot, J.C., drink from a bottle of water, while he rested in his trailer on Friday afternoon. After a five minute break, Lawson, J.C.’s handler on campus, and Patrick Henderson, J.C.’s full-time caregiver, drove the ram from the King Street parade route to Campus Drive, where the celebration of Shepherd University’s Founder Day continued, with speeches, live music and free food.

Many of the students in the Founder’s Day parade participated for a two-fold reason – to celebrate Founder’s Day and to win the university’s annual banner competition for their respective organizations.

“I love seeing all those banners there!” said SU Provost Scott Beard, as he opened the ceremony at Potomac Place. “Good afternoon Rams and welcome to Shepherd University’s Founder’s Day! This is a very special part of our homecoming weekend celebrations.”

“This is a time we set aside to reflect upon our founding,” Beard said. “This is a celebration of our past, our present and our future. Shepherd University has celebrated 148 years since its founding, and we look forward to 2021, when we will celebrate our 150th anniversary.”

Homecoming weekend’s honoree alumni this year were Jim and Mary Staley, who were given a chance to thank the university for the recognition at the ceremony.

Shepherd University's flag troupe leads the Founder Day Procession down King Street on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“My how times have changed!” Jim said, mentioning much of the work he has done has been thanks to his wife’s help. “This is a surprise honor for Mary and I. Shepherd University gave me the skills to attend the Army Officer Candidate School and be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Infantry. We are honored by this – we want to thank our old school, Shepherd College, and Shepherd University.”

Jim’s positive experience at Shepherd University also rang true for Shepherd University senior, Homecoming Court member and SU Board of Governors member Allison Lott.

“Whatever the reason it is for you being here at Shepherd University, I encourage you to live in the present. I truly believe it is necessary, not only to enjoy your time here, but to also recognize how amazing Shepherd University is,” Lott said. “I have been so fortunate to have developed lifelong relationships here, not only with my friends, but also with my professors. Every day is a great day to be a Shepherd Ram!”

SU President Mary J.C. Hendrix closed the program with a few thoughts on Shepherd’s progress since the last Founder’s Day and Homecoming weekend.

“This has been a very exciting year, working together with students at Shepherd,” Hendrix said, mentioning the founding of Women Investing in Shepherd and the agricultural center at Tabler Farm. “Everyone is very excited about these projects – these advances haven’t happened by chance. At Shepherd University, we set out to attract the best and the brightest students. We recognize that you, our students, are here to change the world, and we’re here for you. Happy Founder’s Day!”

A fraternity walks with their Lion King-inspired banner down King Street during the Founder's Day Parade on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

As attendees listened to live jazz music and grabbed cookies, popcorn from Moutaineer Popcorn Company and apples from Orr’s Farm Market, many remained in Potomac Place, to have their banners judged and to take selfies with J.C.

Sorority and fraternity members march down King Street with their banners, during the Founder Day Procession and Banner Competition on Friday. Tabitha Johnston

Shepherd University senior theater major Isaiah Hall, left, poses with J.C. and his on-campus handler, Michelle Lawson, during the Founder Day celebration on King Street on Friday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston