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Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1

2 B U L L E T I N Honoring Our Founders Editor’s Note: The following speech was given by Randolph President Bradley W. Bateman during the special Convocation held as part of the College’s 125th anniversary celebration on October 8, 2016. It is reprinted here in full. Today we are celebrating the success of an institution shaped by tens of thousands of people: students and faculty, staff and administrators, trustees and philanthropists. All of these different kinds of people made the College what it is today. Each one brought their own influence and each one left their own mark. But the College was also shaped by other forces. During our 125 years, America and the world have changed over and over again. In our early years, we had black face plays on campus. Two years ago, our students staged a Black Lives Matter rally on Rivermont Avenue. In the 1960s, three trustees resigned because of the decision to admit black students to the College. Today we have a black trustee, and he is not the first. Thus, it is a humbling task to try to say something compelling, coherent, and honest about the College’s history in just a few minutes. How could I possibly mention all the people who have shaped the College and who have brought it to this day? I could, for instance, focus solely on students, never mentioning administrators or faculty, and still not have enough time to begin to tell you fully about their struggles and their accomplishments. Nor could I ever summarize in a few minutes the social forces that have shaped the College, especially not the different ways that gender and women’s roles have changed in American society since 1891. What I am going to do, then, is to narrow my focus and look at four individuals who have been especially important in shaping the history of Randolph College. What I hope to do in talking about these four very different people, each of whom has a claim as one of our founders, is to try to help us to understand what we are as a college and where our best future lies. A man with a vision No history of the College would be complete without William Waugh Smith, our first president and the man who made the College happen. When we were founded in 1891, Smith was the president of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. Randolph-Macon was a men’s college at that time, of course, and Smith’s predecessor at R-MC had unsuccessfully asked the Board twice to admit women to


Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1
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