Concord Honors Those Who Give … On The Institution’s Charter Day
Athens, W.Va. – The first Charter Day Convocation was held in the main theater of the Alexander Fine Arts Center on Tuesday, February 28 at 11 a.m. Grand Marshal, Dr. William J. Ofsa, professor of English, led the distinguished faculty dressed in academic regalia to the strains of organ music performed by Jesse Ratcliffe, a freshman majoring in music from Hinton.
Michael Curry, vice president of admissions and financial aid, delivered the meditation saying in part: “A new place was born, dedicated to education...and creating a space of ‘sweet harmony and concord’...here, a new vision of hope was born, built of an ideal, honoring harmony for all.”
Dr. Jerry Beasley, president of the University, welcomed guests, students, faculty and staff. “We are here today to remember with gratitude the work of our founders, to celebrate the service that their followers have rendered here and elsewhere and to rededicate ourselves to the good work that they commenced so humbly but hopefully,” he noted.
Beasley introduced special guests and then described his first meeting with Mr. Wayne W. Meisel, who is now president of The Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation.
“About 20 years ago, I attended the organizational meeting...of Campus Compact. [I was one] of a group of college presidents who did not believe what the popular press was saying about college students...that they were members of the “Me Generation.” I had not been invited, but wrangled an invitation from a friend...At the reception that kicked off the meeting, I met a couple of young fellows who apparently had also crashed the gathering. We talked...After hearing about Concord, one of the fellows [Meisel] said, ‘Well, I’ll come down and help you.’”
Soon, Meisel showed up in a rattletrap of a car held together by bailing wire and duct tape. He wrote a proposal to fund a student-led organization...and began his work. Several years later, Meisel met Bertram Bonner, “who at the time was conveniently trying to decide how to devote the wealth he had accumulated.
“You know the rest of the story. Concord was one of the first institutions to have its Bonner Scholars program endowed by the foundation,” Beasley concluded.
Meisel talked about overcoming the challenges of learning disabilities. He struggled with reading and dyslexia. His parents were even told that he would never be able to read. He then offered advice to those like him who struggle with reading disorders. “Date an English major,” he quipped. He followed his own advice. Soon, he married an English teacher.
“[Concord] has affected and changed me professionally and profoundly. You have welcomed, you have challenged, educated, and molded and loved me all the way through,” Meisel shared.
“I had hoped that I would be able to become a part of [this] community, to learn from the staff and faculty and live and raise my family here,” Meisel shared but said that on his way back to the other Princeton (in New Jersey) he was tapped by Bertram Bonner to serve as president of The Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation.
He then talked about the Bonner Foundation and its objectives and goals to make students and communities “uncomfortable” so they would take action to make change.
He quoted Bertram Bonner in saying the Bonner Program was designed to “displace despair with opportunity.”
“But, it is important to know that the Bonner Program was inspired by this community. We have not imported anything. Instead, we recognized and we drew upon the legacy of service, your history of accomplishment, and your promise for the future.
“I want to think boldly about what is left undone—not nearly tinker and adjust out of boredom, but rather, out of a deep desire to move humanity forward. For what we do here now, and what we will do with ourselves in the future makes the difference. It matters not only to us but to a broken world intent on healing but dependent upon our help,” he challenged.
According to Meisel, the purpose of the Bonner Scholars Program at Concord University is to “support and inspire the entire community.”
A “Celebration of Service” multi-media presentation was shown featuring students, faculty and staff who have participated in volunteer services.
Next, Dr. Beasley awarded two honorary degrees.
President Beasley read the following citation, after which the Doctor of Humanitarian Service, Honoris Causa was presented to Mr. Meisel: “Wayne Meisel, you have done more than any American of your generation to call college students to lives of service. As an undergraduate, you matched the talents of your classmates with the needs of neighboring communities, and improved the lives of countless people. As a Lyndhurst Fellow, you walked from the Canadian border to our nation’s capitol, spreading a social gospel while enlisting students and staff in more than sixty colleges and universities in founding the Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) whose ranks now include students from more than three hundred campuses across the country. As a Presidential appointee on the Commission for National and Community service, you shaped federal policy that engaged a new generation of American youth with their communities, and you named the Americorps program, a sequel to the Washington work of respected West Virginians who aided President John Kennedy in the creation of the Peace Corps and VISTA. And now, as President of the Corella and Bertram Bonner Foundation, you have invented a model for student service that is open to all who wish to join you in acts animated by profound gratitude rather than in acquiring badges that affirm privilege. As a minister in the Presbyterian Church, you are a living testament to your faith. As a member of the Concord University Board of Governors, you remind us that the good sense of students when coupled with their prodigious energy can renew not only our institution but also the world around us.
“Your challenge to students resounds in our hallways: “You are the leaders of tomorrow only if you choose to wait.”
Dr. Roland P. Sharp ’36 was also awarded the Doctor of Humanitarian Service, Honoris Causa with President Beasley reading the following citation: “Roland P. Sharp, farm boy from Frost, elder son of Concord, father of healthcare in the hills and hollows of the Mountain State, you are known throughout West Virginia for your commitment to keeping us hale and hearty. After graduating from Concord in 1936, you received your master’s degree from West Virginia University, then you graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, later serving as a professor and chair of their pathology department. As a Pocahontas County native, you returned to West Virginia to practice medicine in Mullens, Greenbank, and Marlinton. You served on numerous boards including the West Virginia State Board of Health and the West Virginia Society of Osteopathic Medicine. In the 1970s, you were the dean and president of the former Greenbrier College of Osteopathic Medicine, later becoming the first president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, helping the institution attain accreditation. You are known for your dedication to educate West Virginia’s rural physicians. As evidence, you were awarded the George Northup Outstanding Physician Award and the West Virginia General Practitioner of the Year in 1971. The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine named its alumni center after you in recognition of your contributions toward their founding. In addition, each year, a medical student is chosen to receive the “Dr. Roland P. Sharp Award” for outstanding achievement. You have served Concord in a variety of capacities, including president of the Alumni Association and member of the Foundation Board.
“Your life as a teacher, professor, administrator and physician is testimony to your genuine concern for the welfare of the people of West Virginia.”
The Concord University Collegiate Singers under the direction of Dr. Kelly Hudson performed a special selection.
Dr. Beasley thanked the guests for attending, and Dr. Hudson directed the Collegiate Singers and guests in the singing of the Concord University Alma Mater.
PHOTO: Mr. Wayne Meisel speaks at Concord’s Charter Day Convocation on Tuesday, February 28.
PHOTO: Dr. Roland Sharp, flanked by Concord Vice President and Academic Dean, Dean Turner, and Concord Board of Governors Chair, Ted Rogers, awaits his honorary degree.