Founders Day Celebration Marks Start of 150th Anniversary Year

Current students, faculty, and alumni performed Sesquicentennial Celebration: For the 150th Anniversary Celebration.

Lebanon Valley College hosted a Founders Day Celebration featuring a new music composition and historical presentations on Tuesday, Feb. 23 to kick off its 150th Anniversary year. 

It was on Feb. 23, 1866, that the College was founded during the annual meeting of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. LVC will host several exciting events during the next 12 months that will be open to the public to join the festivities.

One of the highlights of the Founders Day Celebration featured the debut of a commissioned music piece written by Dr. Justin Morrell, assistant professor of music. Current students, faculty, and alumni performed Sesquicentennial Celebration: For the 150th Anniversary Celebration.

“I wanted to write a piece that spoke both to the past—the long and prestigious tradition of academic study at the College—and the future of LVC,” said Dr. Morrell. “The brass instruments represent a connection to our past, and the music that they play through much of the piece is borrowed from the LVC Alma Mater. The guitars and bass look toward the future, playing music that is more connected to pop and jazz. The vibraphone is the glue that holds us all together—the present day, in a sense.

“This music is a dialog between different groups, between past and future, and it is my privilege to premiere it during the Founders Day celebration,” added Morrell.

As a reflection on the past, students Michael Mango-Puglisi ’17, Rebecca Sausser ’16, and Jeanette Tropp ’17 presented historical research during the event. Mango-Puglisi spoke about Charlie Gelbert, LVC Class of 1928, who went on to a professional Major League Baseball career that included winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. Sausser shared stories of the heroic feats of Lottie Spessard, LVC Class of 1913, who served as a missionary in the Philippines during World War II. Tropp spoke about the vision of Paul Keene, LVC Class of 1938, an organic farming pioneer who founded Walnut Acres Organic Foods.

Wes Dellinger ’75, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, shared his family’s long legacy to the College after President Lewis E. Thayne, Ph.D., welcomed the guests that included several prominent Pennsylvania politicians. Larry Bowman ’70 and Bob Johns ’75, co-chairs of the 150th Anniversary Committee, expressed their thanks to the students and performers, and previewed an exciting year of celebration ahead.

“This campus has dramatically changed over the last 20 to 25 years,” said Bowman. “Graduates that haven’t been back in that period of time will be pleasantly surprised to see what has transformed here.”

Johns said, “This is an exciting time to be part of the Lebanon Valley College community. Our history has been written, but we can all play a part in writing the next 150 years.”

In addition to Bowman and Johns roles as co-chairs, the anniversary sub-committees include numerous alumni and friends of the College and represent four areas: Academic Programs (Dr. Mary Pettice), Marketing/Communications (Kate Ruhl Gerdes ’05 and Dr. Tom Hanrahan), Ongoing Events (Jennifer Evans), and Signature Events (Rev. Dr. Paul Fullmer). 

An anniversary website——was created to share information regarding the College’s proud history and the 150th Anniversary celebration. Additional events and details will be added throughout the year. 

Many of the events are made possible through the generosity of companies who provided support for the displays and activities. These companies include Arthur Funk & Sons Inc., AT&T, Candoris Technology, Fulton Bank, Graystone Consulting, Lebanon Building Supply, Lebanon Federal Credit Union, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, and Metz Culinary Management. They are acknowledged on the anniversary pages and will be acknowledged at the respective events they sponsored. The College is thankful for their support.