Festivities mark Phase II groundbreaking
April 17, 2009
“God provided the sun. Get your shovel. Let’s get started!”
Col. John Haynes, chairman of the Bryan Board of Trustees, caught the spirit of the event as college officials, students and friends broke ground for phase II of the new entrance on April 17.
Work won’t begin until after school is out in May, but speakers were ready to follow Col. Haynes’ lead as they reflected on God’s faithfulness and provision. “God has prepared Bryan College for its next chapter,” President Stephen Livesay said. “God has wonderful things in store for us, not because of us, but because we are faithful to our mission.”
Trustee Emeritus Don Efird, in remarks before offering the invocation, recounted how “in 1969, I brought the oldest of my seven children to Bryan. We missed the cutoff at the bottom of the hill.” It was Mr. Efird, at Dr. Livesay’s first board meeting as president, who challenged Dr. Livesay to make the new entrance a priority.
Keynote speaker Michael Gerson, former speechwriter and policy advisor to President George W. Bush, said Bryan College is named for “a Christian who changed the nation. William Jennings Bryan had one message, that every life counts.” He said a Christian education provides a strong foundation for life. “We know the mission of the King. That mission can be served in distant Africa or down the street.”
State Sen. Ken Yager said the word “portal” come to mind when he thinks of the entrance. “This will be a portal through which the next generation of young men and women will come with their parents to start their Bryan education, a portal through which the light of Christ will shine.”
State Rep. Jim Cobb said the new entrance will “reflect the beauty and character of the campus.”
Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent said, “The new road will be known by many names: an official name, and names known by students. I call it a road to opportunity, to education, to be involved in a school which really promotes Christianity, doing the right things at the right time.” Dr. Livesay added that the official name will be “Landes Drive,” in honor of the alumnus whose gift sparked completion of the project.
County Executive Billy Ray Patton said the entrance “is another commitment of Bryan College to being one of the top small colleges in the nation. To me, it’s not one of the top; it’s THE top.”
Mary Frances Rudd Carlson, daughter of Bryan’s third president, Dr. Judson A. Rudd, reminded the audience of the hardships faced by early faculty, staff and students, and the commitment they had to building Bryan College. She said her father “was on this piece of property hundreds of times, many times before daylight” praying for the school.
Student Government President Rachel Welch reminded students that “we have only entered into a slice of this journey. We weren’t here when they started praying for this. But we were here when Dr. Livesay announced it in chapel, and we were part of the standing ovation.”
Senior Resident Assistant Eric McEachron said he believes the new entrance “will feel really right and natural.” He encouraged students to not take for granted those who made it possible.
The Rev. Mark Hickman told the group that “this was my playground as a child.” He recounted stories of playing on the athletic fields and college grounds as well as in the gymnasium, feeling welcomed by students, and holding good memories of those days. Mr. Hickman sold a critical piece of property to the college to make way for the entrance.
Capping the celebration, students and guests enjoyed a picnic lunch on the soccer practice field, with a dessert of “dirt cake” in honor of the occasion.