Bryan to celebrate Heritage Week
March 07, 2005

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Dr. Ted Mercer
Bryan College will celebrate Heritage Week March 14-18, with programs honoring its fourth president and the college’s namesake.

 

On Monday, the Administration Building, home to most classrooms and faculty and administrative offices, will be named Mercer Hall in memory of Dr. Theodore C. Mercer, Bryan’s fourth president. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni will have part in the chapel program leading up to the dedication. Among those speaking will be Dr. John Mercer, Dr. Mercer’s son, who is a Bryan alumnus and now professor of English at Northeastern State University in Tulsa, Okla.

 

Dr. Ted Mercer served as president from 1956 to 1986. During his tenure Bryan earned regional accreditation, enrollment doubled, 20 buildings were built and seven were renovated. Dr. Mercer also taught a Sunday school class in Dayton, helped found the Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society and was active in more than 15 local, state and national organizations.

 

Mercer Hall, the oldest structure built for the college on Bryan Hill, was completed during his tenure. The building was heavily damaged by fire in 2000 and was rebuilt in the following 18 months to provide facilities and technology for a 21st Century educational environment.

 

Dr. Mercer’s widow, Alice, and sons Ted, John and David, are to take part in the dedication ceremony during Monday’s chapel.

 

Also on Monday, four first-edition books written, signed and inscribed by John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” will be on exhibit in the Bryan library’s Alice Mercer Humanities Room.

 

The books include Letters and Sermons, Volume II (1787); a two-volume set of sermons on Handel’s Messiah, (1794); and Small Tracts and Occasional Sermons, with an inscription from 1798.

 

Bryan alumni Dr. Ronald and Lois Zartman, who own the books, plan to present the historic volumes to the Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney, England, later this year. In the meantime, the books are being used by the John Newton Project, an international organization that is preparing to republish all of Newton’s works in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his death and of Britain’s abolition of slavery.

 

The exhibit will be open Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. except during chapel at 10 a.m.

 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Dr. Kenneth A. Epp, former vice president for student services at Bryan, will speak on William Jennings Bryan’s faith and educational philosophy during chapel at 10 a.m.

 

Also on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., at the library site of the proposed Spoede Shakespeare Garden, Dr. John Mercer will lecture on “‘Our sea-walled garden…is full of weeds’: Garden Imagery in Shakespeare’s Richard II.

 

Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Friday, a student-directed art show titled “Reflections” will be presented in the Spoede Lounge in the library. Artists will portray some aspect of “heritage” in their work.

 

During Wednesday’s chapel, Bryan President Dr. Stephen D. Livesay will unveil a painting of six campus buildings by Dayton artist Susan Cassidy Wilhoit. Prints of the painting will be available for sale in the college bookstore.

 

Heritage Week 2005 kicks off a year-long celebration of the college’s 75th anniversary, which will conclude with a national symposium on the Scopes Trial and creation and evolution in March 2006.