Beasleys Honored at Concord’s 133rd Commencement: Student Center to be Named in President’s Honor

For Immediate Release: 
May 16 2008

CONTACT: Anita Moody, Director, Public Relations/Marketing

Beasleys Honored at Concord’s 133rd Commencement: Student Center to be Named in President’s Honor

Athens, W.Va. – The 133rd spring commencement was held Saturday, May 17, 2008, in the Leslie R. and Ruby Webb Carter Center in Athens. This is the 137th year of the University, and the last commencement ceremony hosted by long-time President, Dr. Jerry L. Beasley. Skies were sunny and a cool breeze comforted guests at the celebration and reception afterward.

The University had six valedictorians (all W.Va. residents): Ashley Gillespie from Bluefield, Bryan Henderson from Piney View, Corey Meadows from Bluefield, Alan Pack from Hinton, Misty Reuschel from Cool Ridge, and Devon Stewart from Oceana.

The registrar’s office reported that 246 undergraduate candidates submitted applications for graduation and eight graduate candidates submitted applications for graduation for a total of 254 applications. There were 209 students from West Virginia, and 45 students from out-of-state. International graduates represented the following nations: Japan, Bulgaria, Germany, Canada, Ireland, and Nigeria.

Dr. Andrew Necessary, associate professor of music, led the University’s Band in a variety of musical selections.

Dr. Jane W. Smith, associate dean and professor of music, welcomed the capacity crowd, noting that, “Not everything that is faced … can be changed … but nothing can be changed … until it is faced.”

Next, Dr. Beasley welcomed guests to the campus, noting that Professor of English, Dr. Paul Kane, will be retiring this year. “He is a master of Latin, Greek, French, and Slovak. But more importantly, in the words of one of his colleagues, he has been a window to the world for his students.”

This commencement was Dr. Beasley’s last commencement as he is retiring in June. The institution presented honorary degrees to both Mrs. Beasley and Dr. Beasley to recognize the couple’s significant contributions during the past 23 years. Notably, Dr. Beasley is the longest-serving president among public colleges and universities in West Virginia. Associate Dean, Dr. Smith, presented both Mrs. Beasley and Dr. Beasley for hooding. President Emeritus, Dr. Joseph F. Marsh, Jr., and President of the Faculty, Dr. Hugh Campbell, hooded the Beasleys. Chair Long read citations recognizing their contributions.

Regarding Mrs. Beasley, he said, “Jean Dressler Beasley, since 1985 when your husband took office, you have been an avid supporter of the Concord community – including the arts, athletics, and academics. You have been a welcoming and hospitable presence at campus events and ceremonies throughout the years. You always show appreciation to all employees of Concord, regardless of position.

“You have worked behind the scenes and have supported your husband in all of his Concord-related endeavors. You both have shared the same vision for the school; we could not have asked for a more dynamic team. The years you spent at home raising your three daughters spoke volumes of your commitment to your family as well as to the future of your community. The town of Athens and the school are eternally grateful for the long hours you have spent making the Concord-Athens Town Social a success. Your civic involvement in Mercer County showed your commitment to education, health care, volunteerism, citizenship, and spiritual growth.”

Regarding Dr. Beasley, he stated the following: “Jerry Beasley, you have inspired generations of Concord students, faculty, and staff with your selfless leadership and your commitment to academic excellence and regional service.

“In your 23 years of service, you have accomplished much in service to Concord. As our ninth president and 17th leader, you organized the Quest for Scholars program, hiking across the hills of southern West Virginia and motivating communities to support local higher education. You walked every mile of this Quest, and the result was a flow of support from a people who are known for their generosity.

“Most of all, aside from all of your tangible accomplishments, you have brought a spirit of enthusiasm and work ethic to this school, you have inspired students to go beyond their own expectations of themselves and take steps to succeed, and you have encouraged faculty to develop careers that focus on teaching, equipping, and encouraging students, so as to develop an atmosphere of personal community at Concord.

“With your presidency, you have embodied the name of our institution. You have truly made this a place of ‘sweet harmony and concord’ with your vision, your goals, and your spirit of compassion and volunteerism.”

Mr. Robert E. Long, financial aid manager for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, brought greetings from the State of West Virginia, saying, in part, that the costs for higher education are ever increasing, but in the 1960s, West Virginia was at the forefront of helping students through the creation of a needs-based grant program. “For fiscal year 2009, funding for the state-level programs will be $83.3 million for students to pursue higher education,” he shared with the audience.

Mr. Long then shared a list of 10 suggestions with the candidates for graduation for living a good and high quality life, saying that, “Seize your dreams, never … never … never let anyone take your dreams away. Do something every day to make your dreams a reality.” He also shared with the guests an announcement made the previous evening at a special banquet honoring the Beasleys, in that the University’s Student Center will be named the Jerry L. Beasley Student Center, to recognize the contributions of Dr. Beasley to the students of Concord University.

Faculty President, Dr. Hugh Campbell, provided a moment of laughter for the candidates and guests by noting that the previous speakers has already covered most of the points he wanted to make! But, he did admonish the candidates to enjoy their day.

Mr. David A. Barnette, Chair for the Concord University Foundation, noted that the Foundation distributed $900,000 for the benefit of the institution by providing scholarships to students and support for faculty. “While the contributions from the Foundation are significant, it always falls short of the needs that are present … so here is my message to you as graduates, go out in the world and be successful and remember your university.”

Ms. Rosalie Peck, president of the University’s Alumni Association, invited all Concord alumni to stand and be recognized, after which a round of applause followed.

Several valedictorians shared encouraging words of advice for their fellow classmates.

For information on attending Concord call 1-888-384-5249 or 1-304-384-5248 or e-mail


PHOTO: Drs. Marsh and Campbell prepare to place a hood on Mrs. Beasley.

PHOTO: Drs. Marsh and Campbell hood Dr. Beasley.

PHOTO: The University had six valedictorians (all W.Va. residents): Ashley Gillespie from Bluefield, Bryan Henderson from Piney View, Corey Meadows from Bluefield, Alan Pack from Hinton, Misty Reuschel from Cool Ridge, and Devon Stewart from Oceana.