Navigation Menu+

A Program to Fit a Patron: Founder’s Day

Creator Unknown
Vanderbilt University
Founder’s Day Program
Founder’s Day, Vertical File Collection, Vanderbilt University Special Collections

Vanderbilt’s first Founder’s Day on May 27th, 1876, celebrated the Commodore’s birthday with a packed schedule. Unfortunately, Mr. Vanderbilt could not attend, having died the previous  January. The grand celebration of the Commodore underscored the relationship between patron (Mr. Vanderbilt) and client (the faculty) during the Gilded Age. In one address that day, Bishop McTyeire exclaimed of Mr. Vanderbilt, “The blessings of the Lord be upon him now and forever!” Thus, we see the deep ties between the faculty of the first decade and Mr. Vanderbilt as their patron turned savior.

This relationship between donor and faculty would serve as a model to multimillionaire philanthropists like the Rockefeller family, who later provided Vanderbilt with funds to build Kirkland Hall and donations to support the School of Nursing and Peabody College.