Founded in 1875, Shenandoah University has evolved over the past 130 years to become one of the most unique centers for learning in the region. Throughout its history, the university has embraced change and dynamic growth – growing from humble beginnings as Shenandoah Seminary to become Shenandoah Institute in 1884, Shenandoah Collegiate Institute and School of Music in 1902, then Shenandoah College in 1925 to Shenandoah College and separately Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in 1937. In 1974, the school became Shenandoah College and Conservatory, and in 1991, it became Shenandoah University.
Throughout the years, Shenandoah has remained a place where relationships are valued and students grow; it is a small private school providing personalized education to its community. Now offering more than 80 different programs of study ranging from baccalaureate programs to doctorate degrees, the Shenandoah landscape has changed significantly since its early days. But all along, a familiar reminder of the past and future of the school has stayed with us: our Alumni Association.
Over the years, our alumni have been involved in providing better experiences for the next generation of SU students. In fact, two of its earliest alumni, brothers James and William Ruebush, returned to their alma mater as faculty in the late 1800s. Talented musicians, they laid the foundation for the music heritage that is Shenandoah Conservatory today. James Ruebush went on to become the fifth president of Shenandoah, leading the school from 1910 to 1922. That tradition of alumni involvement stands today, as more than 1,000 alumni annually support the institution in order to provide today’s students with quality educations.
The formal history of the association is significant. As far back as the early 20th century, the Alumni Association was involved in the lives of Shenandoah students. The oldest recorded alumni event was held during the commencement week activities for the Class of 1930. The annual alumni banquet welcomed seniors into the Association and was part of a week-long celebration of graduation activities. A copy of the original program is shown at right, courtesy of the family of Mrs. Violet Dale Fisher Parsons ’30.
Since the very beginning, SU alumni have given their time, talents, resources and funds to support the generations of students who have followed. Alumni have generously donated millions of dollars to support student success at SU, a testimony to the place Shenandoah holds in the hearts of its alumni.
The Alumni Association Today
The Alumni Association has grown to more than 13,000 members, with alumni hailing from 50 states and roughly 20 countries around the globe. The Alumni Association Board of Directors enlists 25 alumni from the various schools to offer advice on university issues; the president of the association sits on the university’s board of trustees; and our program hosts more than 30 alumni events each year. Hundreds of alumni annually attend and participate in events on campus, making the most of their Shenandoah experiences.
Even though the names have changed and the university moved from Dayton, Va., to Winchester, Va. in 1960, its alumni have stayed close to ensure the alumni history is not forgotten and the future remains bright.