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Founder’s Day


Matthew Othus

This Monday, November 12th, the school celebrated Founder’s Day. Every year the History Department sponsors several events that celebrate the founding of Roanoke College. Specifically, the History Department celebrates the birthday of RC’s first president, David Bittle.

David Bittle started Roanoke College, then “The Virginia Institute”, in 1842. In 1845 the Institute was chartered as Virginia Collegiate Institute and started its history as a Lutheran institution. Bittle became RC’s first president in 1853 when he returned from a leave after his son died. Bittle is most well-known for expanding the college over 23 years before his sudden death in 1876.

The events of Founder’s Day take place around November 19th, Bittles Birthday. They include a bonfire, a torchlight parade and a karaoke celebration in the Colket atrium, complete with a beer garden.

This year the bonfire took place on the back quad starting at 7:00. It was up all night and had people surrounding it all night, at least when it wasn’t raining.

The torchlight parade started at 7:30 and led up to Bittle’s grave.  The history department then gave an explanation of Bittle and the cemetery itself.

Finally, the Bittle Bash took place in the Atrium and Pickle lounge in Colket. The entire history department and plenty of students made use of the karaoke machine. Several professors also offered extra credit for people to attend Bittle Bash and sing.

The entire audience enjoyed all of the quality singers, and cheered especially well when any one of the History professors got up to sing. I would really suggest that anyone who is interested in the foundation of RC or if you love watching people get up and sing.