On January 14, 1913, the trustees of Tusculum College, in recognition of the beneficence of Mrs. Nettie Fowler McCormick, established McCormick Day as a College holiday to be celebrated annually on February 8, the date of her birthday.
During the custom’s early years, the day began with a chapel service during which a speaker related the highlights of the patron’s life, emphasizing her love of cleanliness and good order: an oft-repeated story tells of her donning her white gloves to inspect dorm rooms for dust. Thereafter, students industriously worked to spruce up the campus and their rooms in preparation for an afternoon neatness contest and open house. The day’s activities were concluded with an evening dinner to which faculty and friends were invited.
Until Mrs. McCormick’s death in 1924, President Charles Oliver Gray always took pen in hand on February 9 to report to her on the activities of her birthday. These letters from Tusculum provided much pleasure and satisfaction to the elderly widow.
McCormick Day has evolved throughout the years. Today, the spirit of Mrs. McCormick infuses our Service Day activities. The annual campus-wide event sends students, faculty, and staff to work in service placements which have been identified by members of our local communities. Whether it is sprucing up the campus (we still do some of that), painting a building for the Scouts, or holding a party in a senior citizen center, we feel confident Mrs. McCormick would, in her typical fashion, be ready to put on her white gloves and help.