As a former college sprinter, I know the importance of giving everything to the race. A relay athlete must continue strong until the baton is passed, thinking about the next leg of the race as well as his own.
I hope my tenure as the University of Lynchburg president reflects that.
When I interviewed for the position as president of Lynchburg College, I was 60 years old. Someone asked me what I hoped to accomplish before possibly retiring in five years. I smiled and replied, “Well, in 10 years.”
Here we are, 19 years later.
At every turn throughout my tenure as president, I have seen more that we could accomplish together. That promise of progress energized me. The challenges excited me. The students, faculty, staff, and alumni inspired me. So I continued to serve.
It has been an honor to tackle our latest and perhaps greatest challenge — the coronavirus and its rapid spread across the world and our state — with my leadership team here at Lynchburg. I couldn’t be more proud of our Hornet community and the support we’ve given each other.
As my retirement this summer draws closer, it is impossible not to reflect on the most thrilling moments and accomplishments of the past 19 years:
The meeting where Elliot and Rosel Schewel surprised me with a $2.1 million gift to Lynchburg College. They had not been asked for it, but they wanted to give it.
Building our graduate programs in health sciences from the ground up.
Making Claytor Nature Center a vibrant learning environment.
Watching our athletic teams win numerous championships on the newly renovated Shellenberger Field.
Cheering for the women’s soccer team as they won the NCAA Division III championship.
Watching men’s lacrosse play for the national championship.
Completing Drysdale Student Center, and replacing McWane Hall with the modern Westover Hall.
This list is only the beginning. But even as I reflect on the past, I am focused on the future.
We have more upgrades planned in science laboratories and classrooms in Hobbs-Sigler Hall. I was excited that Tom E. Chandler ’59, a Lynchburg alum I have worked with at length, provided a $100,000 gift to boost that effort.
We also are pursuing “Five for the Hive,” a set of athletics projects that will provide a championship-level experience for our student-athletes and fans. Gillian Stoettner ’91 and her husband, Rob, seeded that initiative with $100,000.
Recently, we secured a $150,000 challenge grant for those projects from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation. This grant will match fundraising at $75,000 each. Many alumni and friends have already made gifts to help us meet the challenge.
Looking farther ahead, we envision more building projects, hopefully an additional science building and a replacement for Wake Field House. But, more importantly, we will continue to build people — graduates with character, intellect, and momentum. Your ongoing support will strengthen Lynchburg’s academic programs and bolster student initiatives that change lives.
This summer, I will pass the baton to Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, the 11th president of the University of Lynchburg. I am confident she will build on the momentum. Then, and only then, will my race be complete.
Of course, Sheila and I will always be cheering for her and Hornets everywhere as the University of Lynchburg moves upward.
Kenneth R. Garren, President