Declaration of the Academic Year
Opening Convocation -- Fall 2011
Dr. Barbara Wells, Interim Vice President & Dean of the College
[Inspired by a previous declaration written by former Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty and Professor Emeritus of Sociology Dr. Dean Bolden]
The Declaration of the Academic Year is the formal announcement that the new academic year has begun. When you leave this Convocation ceremony, the bell in the tower of Anderson Hall will toll. This bell marks important events in the life of the College, but it also has its own history.
It is a story that new students and others should be aware of because it helps us understand who we are, and intend to be, at this College.
Maryville College was the first college in Tennessee to admit African Americans and had black students until 1902 when a state law prohibited integrated education. In 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated education, students of color were once again admitted to the college.
In the 1930s, the bell at Maryville College developed a crack and needed to be replaced. The bell that was then installed in the Anderson bell tower was from a local institution named Hastings College, also called the Freedman’s Normal Institute. This was a Black College founded after the Civil War to educate freed slaves. That college later closed and its bell was put in storage until the 1930s when it was put to use at Maryville College. The newly installed bell rang out throughout the rest of the segregation era, in solidarity with individuals prohibited from enrolling in our college.
That bell has been ringing in the new academic year ever since.
Let us recall when the bell tolls to begin this academic year, that it is also a bell that proclaims justice and freedom.
And now, remembering our continuing mission to grow in wisdom and search for truth, it is my privilege to announce that the 2011-2012 academic year at Maryville College has begun.