Written by Emily Leclerc
Every year since 1993, Roanoke College has celebrated the life of the college’s founder and first president with Founders’ Day. Dr. Reverend David F. Bittle’s birthday falls on Nov. 19, and the Historical Society collaborates with the History Department to celebrate this special day annually. This student-focused event is held to encourage a sense of community and to educate individuals on the fascinating history of our campus community.
Founders’ Day is generally characterized by a discussion of Bittle’s life, accomplishments, and a review of his impact on the rich history of the college. Bittle was responsible for the expansion of the college as well as the establishment of the college’s mission statement. A procession is then followed up to Bittle’s grave, where the alma mater and happy birthday are sung in respect to him.
Starting in 2014, a new aspect was added to Founder’s Day to increase participation and make the celebration more enjoyable. The History Department opened a costume closet, which is composed of a collection of costumes from a range of different eras. On top of the already established Founders’ Day events, students and faculty were encouraged to dress up in period costumes to not only increase the awareness about the costume lab but also to add a fun element to the celebration of Bittle’s life and legacy.
This year’s Founders’ Day saw the participation of about 100 students and faculty in the dress-up portion of the day. In the evening, a karaoke party was thrown in the History Department as a fun way to wrap up the day.