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Concord University Holds Donor Appreciation Banquet
Athens, W.Va. – The Concord University Foundation hosted a Donor Appreciation Banquet on April 2, 2007, with 130 guests in attendance. The annual event honors both scholarship donors and scholars; this year’s banquet featured many guest speakers: family and friends of donors, as well as grateful student recipients.
Ms. Cynthia Butler from Richmond, Va., spoke about the Marcella Dee Whitlock Scholarship Fund, named for an elderly but still very sprightly woman who looks and acts twenty years younger and thus deceives everyone about her age. She is a retired elementary school teacher and graduate of Concord. Ms. Butler, who is Ms. Whitlock’s great niece, said, “In the early 1960s, she devoted one entire winter to reorganizing the Alumni Association by calling two- or three-hundred people on the phone and asking them to recommit to making the Alumni Association the strong vibrant association that it continues to be today.” Ms. Whitlock received the “Alumna of the Year” award in 1967 and was the first woman to receive this award.
The next speaker was Jesse Call, a senior political science major at Concord, Bonner Scholar, member of the Student Government Association, and student representative for the University’s Board of Governors. “God has answered my prayers through individuals like you,” Jesse said. “I didn’t just want some college; I wanted the college where God wanted me to go, the college where I could grow by not only learning and preparing for the opportunity to help my community out, but to have the grace and experiences to grow me into the person I was supposed to be. With the help of donors like you, hope didn’t fail.” Jesse went on to say that Concord was by far his best choice and that his experience thus far has been eye-opening and challenging. He also mentioned the Bonner Scholars program as his main reason for enrolling in Concord.
Next was Mrs. Jo Ellen Lagowski. She and her husband established a scholarship for the Environmental Geosciences program in memory of their late son Matthew. Matt was a loving boy who enjoyed nature by preserving and respecting it. If he would have lived to adulthood, Mrs. Lagowski believes that he would have surely majored in Environmental Geosciences because of his desire to change the physical world around him for the better. In her speech, she congratulated the geology student who received this scholarship.
Brenna Wickline a junior public relations major spoke about her Concord experience. “One reason I chose to attend Concord was because I knew there would be a sense of community here that wouldn’t be elsewhere,” she said. After graduation, Brenna plans to be a leader within the United Methodist Church and get a master’s degree in marketing and communications. “When you invest in our education – in my education – you invest in our learning life lessons and figuring out who we are. The experience you are affording us is truly a priceless opportunity.”
Dr. Bill Reynolds spoke about the Dr. James P. Bailey Scholarship Fund. Dr. Bailey was a veterinarian in Mercer County for 50 years. A Concord graduate, he was heavily involved in community service and was named the “Grand Groundhog Watcher” in the early 1990s. The scholarship was established soon after this time. The scholarship was a testament to the fact that “most importantly, [Dr. Bailey] loved people, and especially aspiring young people,” Dr. Reynolds said. “I have been most moved by the remarks of the scholarship recipients. I have always left these dinners with a good feeling that our country is in good hands and a sense of pride that Dr. Jim Bailey has played a small part.”
The 2007 Concord University Foundation Award of Excellence Honoree was then honored with a speech, a special plaque, and a unique painting of Marsh Hall. This year’s Honoree was Mr. J.D. “Jim” Connolly. He is the founder and owner of Conn-Weld Industries, Inc., which is now one of the largest employers of Mercer County and has grown to be an international business. “He has created a substantial scholarship for the children of Conn-Weld workers who attend Concord University,” it was noted. Mr. Connolly is a loyal member of the Concord University Foundation and serves on the Foundation’s investment committee. He has demonstrated “outstanding leadership and commitment to excellence in education.”
President Jerry Beasley gave his appreciation for donors and scholars. “Our hope always was that not only would we find resources to help students, but attached to those resources would be examples for our students to model their lives after, and indeed that is one of the things that is taking place here on this campus,” Beasley said. “Every day we see what these students do with their lives and have the opportunity to follow them and see the mark these students are making on the world. For what you’ve seen and the testimony you’ve heard to that impact, we hold out our thanks to each of you.”
PHOTO: Ms. Marcella Dee Whitlock ’39 entertains guests at the Donor Appreciation Banquet. A scholarship was established in her honor.
PHOTO: Mr. Jesse Call from Pocahontas, Va., talks about the importance of scholarships in helping him achieve his goal of a university degree.
PHOTO: Mr. J.D. “Jim” Connolly, president of Conn-Weld Industries, Inc., and recipient of the 2007 Concord University Foundation Award of Excellence, was given a portrait of Marsh Hall as token of the Foundation’s appreciation for his contributions to the University.
Corrie McKee a junior majoring in English and journalism wrote this news release. Her hometown is Nitro.