Maryville College marked its birthday Saturday night with a party featuring music, photos and balloons, but this celebration was extra special.

Oct. 19 marked 200 years since the Synod of Tennessee adopted the plan for the Southern and Western Theological Seminary, paving the way for the first class of five students and what would become Maryville College.

“We have an incredible history, but I believe that Maryville College’s best days still lie ahead,” President Tom Bogart told the hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff and friends gathered at the Clayton Center for Arts for the Founder’s Day and Bicentennial Celebration.

The event included archival exhibits, photo displays and historical choral music recordings, as well as instrumental, vocal and theatrical performances.

The MC Alumni Association presented a Bicentennial Mosaic, composed of 5,000 photos submitted by Maryville College alumni and friends. The commemorative artwork will be installed permanently on campus.

Some 5,000 images from alumni and friends combined into a Bicentennial Mosaic, a commemorative piece of artwork that will be permanently installed on the campus.

The evening ended with orange and garnet balloons dropped from the ceiling while the alma mater played.

Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor, Class of 1970, served as the master of ceremonies for the Bicentennial Showcase. He noted in remarks prepared for the evening that in its first century alone the college had “survived poverty, fires, wars and attempts to move it elsewhere. It had graduated the Scots-Irish of the Southern Appalachians but also African Americans, international students and women — achievements that peer institutions wouldn’t celebrate for decades. And, Maryville had developed a reputation as a progressive, first-rate college accessible to deserving students and committed to sending out graduates who would make a positive difference in the world.”

In the second century, he said, “Its reputation as a progressive, forward-thinking institution has continued to grow.”

Looking to the future, Bogart cited the college’s latest strategic plan, which will include online education, new majors and programs, and fundraising for campus improvements.

“For two centuries, Maryville College has reinvented itself in order to serve its core values in changing times,” his prepared remarks said. “As we look ahead, we recognize the need for our next moment of reinvention, capitalizing on what we do uniquely and well, while addressing the challenges we face. We look to position Maryville College as the preferred choice for students who are a good match to come, flourish, launch and contribute to the world. In this age of continuous learning and rapidly evolving digital tools, we seek to find new ways to serve the educational needs of people at many stages of their educational journeys.”

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