On the blustery morning of Feb. 24, 2016, Meredith College students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and friends packed into Jones Auditorium for a very special gathering – the College’s 125th Anniversary Convocation.
The ceremony started with a faculty processional as Emeritus Professor David Lynch played the organ. Meredith President Jo Allen, ’80, then welcomed the assembly and introduced Jean Jackson, vice president for College programs.
Setting the stage for keynote speaker Roger Crook, Jackson said of the beloved emeritus professor, “He has always been an advocate for students and faculty, and a leader among us. Roger is a scholar, master teacher, and mentor to many assembled here today.”
Crook, who joined the Meredith faculty in 1949, became head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy in 1968, a position he held until his retirement in 1987. He started the College’s Study Abroad Program, which has evolved into the global offerings of today’s Office of International Studies.
An accomplished and prolific scholar and author, Crook has spent the last 18 months studying the life and work of Thomas Meredith, for whom the College is named.
“I am delighted to speak to you about a person I have learned a great deal about,” Crook said. He detailed Thomas Meredith’s tireless work to develop the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, Wake Forest Institute (now University), and Meredith College.
Thanks to the groundwork established by Thomas Meredith’s unwavering commitment, Crook said, Meredith College’s charter was granted in 1891, 41 years after Thomas Meredith’s death.
“Thomas Meredith never gave up,” Crook said. “As far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t a founding father of Meredith College. He was a grand founder.”
After Crook’s remarks, the Meredith Chorale, conducted by Professor Fran Page, sang So Many Angels, and Associate Professor of History Dan Fountain unveiled the College’s new historical marker (via video).
“The College’s first historical marker was created in 1942, so many believed it was time for an update,” Fountain said, describing the arduous process of developing the words for the marker: “Writing an institution’s history in five to six lines is much like writing an encyclopedia on a sticky note.”
David McLennan, visiting professor of political science, next read excerpts from N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s official proclamation recognizing Meredith’s 125th anniversary.
The governor’s proclamation is a fitting tribute to the College’s impact and promise for the future, McLennan said.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is scheduled to deliver the city’s proclamation in person at the College’s 125th Anniversary Special Celebration on Friday at 10 a.m.
After a responsive reading led by Professor of English Eloise Grathwohl, and a singing of the Alma Mater led by Mary Beth Cameron, ’17, the stage curtains parted to reveal a birthday cake for all gathered to enjoy.
Happy 125th, dear Meredith College.
Learn more about Meredith's 125th celebration
By Suzanne Stanard