Founder’s Day Convocation emphasized Morgan’s historical branch

Rushaad Hayward, Contributing Writer

Morgan State hosted its annual Founders Day Convocation Thursday with an emphasis on one of the University’s historical branches.

The 2018 Founders Day Convocation celebrated more than 150 years of Morgan State’s founding on November 27, 1867. Students, staff, and faculty members gathered in the Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts building to attend the event.

The convocation opened with an invocation from Reverend Dr. Bernard Keels. Next, the crowd was then greeted by the Chair of the Board of Regents Kweisi Mfume as he stressed the importance of this day to the students and staff in the audience.

“We look forward to an even greater history of growth, education, and achievement,” said Mfume. “We have learned to pause each year on this day. This institution celebrates annually its future.”

Following his speech came a musical selection from the Morgan State Choir led by Director Eric Conway. The choir performed Leonard Bernstein Mass.

At the conclusion of their performance, President David Wilson then introduced the prominent guest speaker, Dr. Nancy Elizabeth Fitch.

Dr. Fitch is a distinguished Historian-in-Residence, and retired associate professor of English at the College of New Rochelle was honored to be the speaker for the convocation.

She shared the deeply embedded and extensive history of the Virginia Collegiate and Industrial Institute, 1893-1917, and at the time Morgan College.

“Some of our historically black colleges and universities and many of their constituent parts like VCII suffer death by fire. Records and institutional memories were lost, some institutions never to be heard from again. Their work neither remembered nor acknowledged, but due to your good offices that will not happen to Virginia Collegiate and Industrial Institute or to Frank J. Trigg Jr,” said Dr. Fitch.

She emphasized the legacy of the institution which still stands today.

“Yes VCII died on October 3, 1917, and went straight to limbo for three decades,” said Dr. Fitch. “25 years of struggle, challenge, and success with never enough resources but with perseverance that led to accolades and achievement that can be identified.”

She also reminded everyone that Morgan used to have campuses in Virginia and in Princess Anne. The branch in Princess Anne is now the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. A fact that some might not seem to know.

President Wilson then began the presentation of the distinguished achievement awards. Among the recipients was Harriet Woolford, a former dorm advisor. Woolford is most known for her heroics in saving students from a fire at the Virginia Collegiate and Industrial Institute.

“God has blessed the work,” said Dr. Fitch.