The University of Mount Olive celebrated 70 years of providing Christian higher education at the University’s annual Founders Day Worship Service on Wednesday, November 17. The Reverend Frank R. Harrison, former Mount Olive College Chaplain from 1971 to 2002, was the guest speaker.
Harrison spoke about his days at Mount Olive College as a student and as Campus Minister. He shared humorous memories and relayed the history of Mount Olive from its early days as a junior college, college, and now university. He also talked about the tremendous growth the University has experienced in the past 70 years. “As I look back over the history and development of this University, I see the hand of God at work to make all this possible today,” he said. Harrison ended his remarks by quoting the University of Mount Olive Alma Mater.
Special music was provided by the University of Mount Olive Concert Choir under the direction of Jonathan Saeger, as well as Lester and Holly Rector, co-directors of Carolina Sound.
UMO President Dr. H. Edward Croom recognized several special guests from the audience including Former First Lady Rose Raper, wife of the late W. Burkette Raper, who served as president of Mount Olive College for 41 years. Current First Lady Phyllis Croom led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to Raper in recognition of her 92nd birthday on Saturday, November 13.
Each year during the Founders Day celebration, the University awards one student with the Founders Leadership Award, a scholarship awarded in memory of the late Dr. W. Burkette Raper, president of Mount Olive College 1954-1995. Payable on future educational expenses at the University of Mount Olive, the scholarship is presented to a senior in the traditional program who has distinguished him/herself as an individual of character and initiative and has demonstrated strong leadership qualities toward making UMO the institution of Christian higher education envisioned by its founders. The recipient is selected by a committee of faculty, student and staff representatives.
This year’s Founders Leadership Award was presented to Kimberly Brook Chapman, a senior agriculture education major from Randleman, NC. Chapman has been involved in Collegiate FFA during her sophomore and junior years and a student advisor during her senior year. During her service, she has traveled across North Carolina speaking and presenting leadership workshops about agriculture education, UMO, and FFA to students, teachers, sponsors, and business and industry representatives.
“Kimberly’s commitment to service and personal growth is exemplified in her every action,” said Dr. Jason Davis, Assistant Dean for the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “By balancing her school, social commitments, and work, she has been able to excel and grow. She has approached each achievement and honor as an opportunity to make a positive difference by serving others in a humble and caring fashion. She truly exemplifies the last line of the FFA motto: ‘Living to Serve.’”
For the final portion of the Founder’s Day service, President Croom recognized 29 faculty and staff members for their continued dedicated efforts. He presented each service award recipient with a gift. He said, “I am thankful for the dedication and support of each of our faculty and staff. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the University of Mount Olive.”