Maryville College’s 200th anniversary was recognized by recent events in Nashville, including the governor proclaiming 2019 “Maryville College Bicentennial Year” in Tennessee.

“Noble, grand and true — I think that should be a motto for all of us as Tennesseans,” former state Court of Appeals Judge Brandon Gibson, senior adviser to Gov. Bill Lee, said in presenting the proclamation during a Feb. 26 event at Nashville’s Woolworth on 5th restaurant. The three words from the college’s alma mater also are its bicentennial theme.

The evening’s program included performances by Voices of Praise, Maryville College’s gospel choir; a presentation by Aaron Astor, associate professor of history, on the college’s commitment to diversity; and an update on Maryville College initiatives by President Tom Bogart.

Charles Robert Bone, Nashville attorney and one of the investors in Woolworth on 5th, spoke about the historical significance of the building, the site of sit-ins for civil rights activists in the 1960s, and the recent restoration work.

A panel discussion on access to education in the 21st century was moderated by Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge W. Neal McBrayer, a 1986 alumnus and member of the college’s board of directors.

In opening the evening program, Mark Cate, president of Stones River Group and a former vice president of Maryville College, said he and wife consider the college their alma mater because of the years they spent on campus and the professional development opportunities given them as young administrators. Cathy Cate, who is now executive director for Leadership Tennessee, served as assistant dean of students before working for the on-campus outdoor adventure and team-building corporation Mountain Challenge LLC.

Maryville College was established in 1819 by the Rev. Isaac Anderson, a Presbyterian minister who saw a great need for trained ministers and churches in the new frontier. Anderson was a vehement opponent of slavery, and among his earliest students were African-Americans and Cherokees.

When Mary Wilson graduated from Maryville College in 1875, she became became the first female to earn a bachelor’s degree from a Tennessee college or university. William H. Franklin became the college’s first African-American graduate in 1880.

Today, Maryville College serves approximately 1,200 undergraduates. Its “Vision for Diversity” details its commitment to build a community composed of “persons with a variety of interests, backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities.”

A portion of it reads: “The presence of a diverse educational community provides opportunities to fulfill a commitment to democratic citizenship. Exposure to the ideas, cultures and values of others enables all members of the learning community to grow intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally.”

The Feb. 26 event was attended by numerous alumni, parents and friends of the college. The event was sponsored by Stones River Group, Woolworth on 5th, Lipman Brothers and several alumni and friends.

The previous day in Tennessee’s House of Representatives, Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, led the recognition and presentation of House Joint Resolution No. 14, which concluded with “… we honor and commend the faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters of Maryville College for their commitment to higher education, congratulate them upon their 200th anniversary and extend our best wishes for every future success.”

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