EMORY, Va. -

Thursday was Founders Day at Emory & Henry College, a day to remember the legacy of the school 177 years in the making.

Emory & Henry was established by the Methodist Church, one of 2,000 schools the church started in the United states. Now there are only 104 left operating, Emory & Henry being one of them.

The school has not only been dedicated to academics, but teaching the importance of public service.

It has all of pomp and circumstance of a graduation, but it's a tribute to the founding of Emory & Henry College as it heads into its 178th year; it's a celebration of all the students and faculty that have made the school what it is today.

One of the things that has given it its longevity is academics but another is its dedication to service to others. "I would call that the fact for 177 years -- we've not only been educating the mind, but we've been educating the heart as well," President Jake Schrum said.

That heart stretches around the world. It's something that Emory & Henry empathizes as soon as students walk through the door. "Serving that community, all of those folks are taught from day one to go out and serve others and help make the world a better place," 1985 graduate Mark Graham said.

When a tornado struck Glade Spring just down the road nearly three years ago, it was the Emory & Henry family that stepped up to help. "What happened in Glade Spring, how our students, faculty, staff and alumni responded to that, was really an inspiration to a lot of people. Especially those people in Glade Spring," President Schrum said.

Service was the topic of the keynote speech from Gary Reedy, a vice president of Johnson & Johnson and a 1978 graduate of Emory & Henry. Reedy is very much involved with service to his worldwide community. "People ask me, 'How do you have time to do your job and to devote all that time to these other organizations and to your community?' I tell them, its something I learned in college. I say it's something I'm passionate about," Reedy said.

That passion has been around 177 years.

The American Red Cross also honored Emory & Henry College as part of their Celebration of Heroes event Thursday for their efforts in the aftermath of the tornado that hit Glade Spring in the spring of 2011.