ATHENS, (W.Va.) – Concord University officially turned 150 on Feb. 28. On that date back in 1872, the institution received its charter from the West Virginia Legislature. Concordians marked this milestone with a Founders Day ceremony Monday afternoon in the Fine Arts Center’s Main Auditorium that capped off a week-long “150 Years of Concord “celebration.
Speakers for Founders Day centered their remarks on Concord’s past, present and future.
“On February 28, 1872, the West Virginia legislature passed an act to locate a branch state normal school at Concord in the county of Mercer,” stated Sarah Turner, Vice President of Advancement, in her welcoming remarks. “What began as a small institution with a single mission to provide trained teachers to southern West Virginia, Concord University now offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a variety of programs of study. What has remained constant over this century and a half is Concord’s dedication to serving the needs of the region.”
Speaker Peyton Brown looked at Concord from the perspective of a current student. A 2020 graduate, she is pursuing a Master of Social Work degree at Concord while working as a graduate assistant with the Bonner Scholars Program.
In describing present-day Concord Brown said, “For me, three major things stick out: the place, the personality, and of course, the people.”
“The place of Concord is rooted in what you’ll see upon driving past the welcome sign,” she said. “You’ll see ‘The Campus Beautiful’ in all four seasons, well-manicured common places, historic buildings, and the famous bell tower.
“The personality of Concord is seen in the school pride displayed on students’ shirts and apparel as you pass them heading to class, the smell of pine and fresh mountain air that hits your face as you move from building to building, and a sense of home that keeps bringing you back time and time again,” she said.
“And, finally, perhaps what sticks out to me the most about the present of Concord is its people,” she said. “Concord really is Concord because of the wonderful people throughout the community and am so very proud to be a member of such a good-spirited group of people here in the present. Happy 150th Birthday, Concord!”
Dr. Kendra Boggess, President of Concord University, acknowledged the institution’s legacy and successes. “Concord grew and it thrived,” she said. Looking forward, she anticipates a bright future for the school.
“Now, we’re at a turning point in the institution’s history, one that doesn’t arrive very often. We’re planning for institution defining change by moving more deeply in the health sciences area. I know that many attending today are watching as we work tirelessly to build a nursing program upon which we can add specializations, more healthcare related degrees, and we’re already determining which directions we will pursue given the resources, the approval and advice of our faculty, administrators and Board of Governors.
“We’ll also be moving in a direction that builds upon our strong science and math programs to serve our students with stronger computer science and technology related degrees,” she said.
|President Kendra Boggess|
Dr. Boggess presented a plaque to Dr. William “Bill” Ofsa “in recognition of his 62 years of teaching with distinction” at Concord. A graduate of Concord, Dr. Ofsa began teaching at his alma mater in 1958 in Languages and Literature, a division he would later chair.
“It’s been great,” Dr. Ofsa said as he accepted the award for his more than six decades of service to Concord and received a standing ovation from the audience. “I came to Concord and I had nothing with me except the desire to teach English and to help others.”
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice offered virtual greetings. “What a jewel Concord University really is,” he said. “How beautiful the campus is.”
“I congratulate you. Congratulations on your birthday. Congratulations for all the work you do each and every day,” he continued. “I’m so proud that you are right here in this Mountain State…wonderful school, wonderful, wonderful people.”
Referencing the birthday cake being served following the ceremony, the Governor remarked how Babydog, his pet English Bulldog and the state’s First Dog, “just loves cake.” “Some way, somehow, Babydog has got to have a piece of that cake!” he jokingly said.
The specially designed cake featured Concord’s seal, the great seal of West Virginia, and a University logo incorporating the Marsh Memorial Carillon.
Later in the program Dr. Boggess read a proclamation signed by the Governor honoring Concord University’s 150-year legacy and denoting “Concord University Day in the Mountain State.”
“For 150 years, Concord has been a gateway for education, career and lifelong success for students across the region and indeed across our entire state,” stated Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “Concord has always been known for its high-quality caring educators and staff who are committed to students personal growth and success. That tradition continues today.”
“Concord is a very special place and it’s mostly because of her people,” stated Dr. Brad Lane, Chairperson of the Concord University Board of Governors.“We hail from all parts of the country and all regions of the world. We gather in this small town in the mountains of West Virginia to learn, expand our minds and ultimately find a better purpose. And, I’m confident that the education provided here at Concord is second to none.”
“As we look toward the next chapter of Concord’s history, our success depends, as always, on those who devote their time, energy, support and resources to our institution,” he said. “As we work together, I am confident that our tomorrow is bright and 150 years from now, future Mountain Lions will celebrate our current efforts.”
“Concord’s Past, A Video Tribute” included video greetings from West Virginia’s United States representatives, and reflections from Concord faculty and staff from offices and departments across campus.
Dr. Jacob Womack, a member of Concord’s faculty, provided the processional and the ConChords performed the Concord Alma Mater.
The Founders Day ceremony is archived on Concord University’s YouTube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=vscgmxrgG4U
The University launched its “150 Years of Concord” observance during Homecoming 2021 in October with events to acknowledge the sesquicentennial throughout the year. A special spotlight was focused on the sesquicentennial during the week of Feb. 21-28, 2022.
The evening of February 21 was devoted to 150 Years of Concord, a commemorative coffee-table styled history book, compiled in honor of the University’s sesquicentennial. Those who helped compile the book gathered with guests in the President’s Room of Marsh Library to discuss the publication which follows Concord from its beginnings through its current administration and features photos from the university archives. Concord historical items from the library’s museum were on display during the event.
The arts took centerstage on February 22. That evening guests enjoyed an exhibit in the Fine Arts Center’s Butcher Art Gallery featuring curated works by Concord faculty. Later that night, Randall Reid-Smith, Curator of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, gave a special presentation in the Main Auditorium.
The campus community had an opportunity to leave their mark on the celebration on Wednesday, February 23 by signing a CU birthday banner set up in the Student Center. Also on February 23, faculty and staff donned “150 Years of Concord” T-shirts and gathered outside on the steps of the Marsh Library for a group photo.
Concordians showed how well they knew their Concord history during Trivia Night on Thursday, February 24 with prizes going to the most knowledgeable. Dr. Kendra Boggess and CU’s mascot, Roar, hosted “Lunch with the President” on Friday afternoon in the campus dining hall.
The President’s Ball, the signature event for the “150 Years of Concord” celebration brought an evening of elegance to campus on Saturday, February 26. The formal affair featured a plated dinner, live musical entertainment suitable for dancing, and a photo booth offering laughs and light-hearted memories. The Student Center Ballroom, decorated in finery, served as the backdrop for the grand occasion.
Recipients of the Presidential Excellence Award were recognized during the President’s Ball. This distinguished award honors Concord University students, faculty, staff and auxiliary staff who exemplify dedication and service, both on campus and in the community. Honorees for 2022 include: Faculty – Mr. James Biggs, College of Professional and Liberal Studies, Department of Fine Arts and Dr. Logan Browning, College of Professional and Liberal Studies, Department of Business; Classified Staff, Ms. Karen Phipps, Physical Plant and Chief Mark Stella, CU Police Department; Non-Classified Staff, Mrs. Lindsey Byars, President’s Office, Mr. Mike Cox, Athletics and Mr. Austin Clay, Esports; Auxiliary Staff, Ms. Peggy Christian, Aramark and Ms. Hillary Williams, CU Foundation; and Students, Bayleigh Meadow and Isaac Prather.
Each member of the University’s COVID Response Team was recognized with the Presidential Excellence Award. These honorees include: Mr. Bill Fraley, Student Affairs; Mr. Eric Jewell, Student Affairs/ Housing; Ms. Khalilah Workfield, Student Affairs/ Housing; Ms. Lauren Phillips, Student Affairs/ Housing; Ms. Rachel Gebhart, Student Affairs/ Housing; Ms. Ruthie Rhodes, Student Health Center; Ms. Jennifer Stull, Student Health Center; Ms. Amanda Cecil, Student Health Center; Dr. David Campbell, Department of Health Sciences; Dr. Sarah Beasley, Vice President of Student Affairs; and Mr. Dan Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Operations.
On Sunday, February 27, Concordians were invited to share their Concord story on social media.