Concord University to Hold Groundbreaking Ceremony for New University Point which will House the Wilkes Interfaith Chapel and Museum and the Erickson Alumni Center

For Immediate Release: 
Sep 12 2005

Concord University to Hold Groundbreaking Ceremony for New University Point which will House the Wilkes Interfaith Chapel and Museum and the Erickson Alumni Center

Athens, W.Va. - On Friday, October 7, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at Concord University to mark the beginning of the first phase of construction on “University Point,” a new center that will feature the Wilkes Family Interfaith Chapel and Museum and the Erickson Alumni Center. The event will begin at 11 a.m. on the lawn in front of the Science Building.

University Point will take its place alongside the venerable buildings lining the front drive of campus.


The interfaith chapel has been the dream of many for more than 50 years. During the 1930s, Concord President J. Franklin Marsh Sr. set as a goal the establishment of an interfaith chapel at Concord. A group of Concord alumni and their friends, in the early 1980s, established a foundation with the intent of raising funds for the construction of the chapel.

Supporters who began raising money for the interfaith chapel project right after World War II raised nearly $120,000. Since 2003, momentum has built with the addition of grants, bequests, and donations and more recently, the Wilkes family from Beckley and the Erickson Foundation, Inc., have supported the project.


The museum will serve as a tribute to the spirit and character of the people of this region and will employ the latest information technologies to provide an uplifting experience for all who enter its doors as well as for those who access the treasure of resources that will be available by computer on the World Wide Web.


The alumni center will provide the University an opportunity to encourage stronger relations with the University’s 14,000 alumni and friends.

Charles O. Erickson was born in Northfork, McDowell County, in 1913, and became a highly respected business and community leader during his life. Although he never finished high school, he became a successful entrepreneur in the cable industry and spent his entire adult life in West Virginia.

In terms of higher education, Erickson's unique focus was establishing alumni centers for the universities and colleges of West Virginia. According to Erickson, "Do you know of anything that is better than an alumni center, which will go on for years and years to come and help the universities?" All told, the Erickson Foundation has sponsored eleven alumni centers across West Virginia. All of these centers bear Erickson's name. His son, Charles F. Erickson continues that family commitment today.

The groundbreaking ceremony will feature remarks from First Lady Gail Manchin and representatives from the Concord University Board of Governors, the Alumni Association, the Concord University Foundation, Inc., the Interfaith Chapel Foundation and supporters of the project, Charles F. Erickson and Betty J. Wilkes.

“We’d like to invite everyone to attend this event. This is a major addition to our campus. We would love to have the public out, as well as past students, and anyone who has interest in the University. We’d love to see a big crowd,” said R.T. “Ted” Rogers, chair of the Concord University Board of Governors.

Concord University President Jerry L. Beasley stated that, “Buildings are significant to the extent that life-changing experiences occur in them. Here, we believe there will be unleashed a renewal of individuals, so rare in public education that emanates from the mixture of mind, spirit and the natural loveliness of this place.

“Those who come to this campus to learn to serve will be equipped to sustain their commitment through the inevitable challenges and adversities that are inevitably encountered in lives lived for others.”

The planning committee for the project hopes to turn ground in the spring of 2006.

For more information, contact the Concord University public relations office at 1-304-384-5288 or


CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679, extension 6086 if special assistance or help is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.

Jesse Call, a junior majoring in political science and history, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.