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Special Ceremony Commemorates Campus Centers

Dull and dreary rains did not dampen the warm reception and celebration held in Union Church to honor Loyal Jones and the late Willis D. Weatherford, Jr.

Photographs courtesy of Kelsey Crim

Faculty, staff and the Berea community gathered on May 2 in the warmth of Union Church to celebrate the renaming of two of Berea’s most influential campus centers. The event featured performances given from fellow Bereans who have been connected with the Appalachian Center and the Campus Christian Center at Berea College. Billy Edd Wheeler, Lee Morris, the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, all gave very heartfelt and soulful performances and “preachments” before the unveiling of the plaques memorializing this historic change. This was followed by remarks from President Shinn, Loyal Jones and Anne (Mrs. Willis D.) Weatherford.

The Board of Trustees made the decision to rename the centers after David O. Welch, a member of the Board, made the recommendation that the centers be rededicated in honor of Loyal Jones and Willis D. Weatherford. In passing the resolutions, the Board of Trustees cited the exceptional accomplishments each individual had made in connection with these Centers.

The Appalachian Center now known as the “Loyal Jones Appalachian Center” was renamed earlier that morning in a dedication ceremony honoring Loyal Jones, the renowned Appalachian scholar. Jones was the director of the Appalachian Center from 1970-1993. Jones, who graduated from Berea College in 1954, has dedicated his entire professional life to Appalachia and was the founding Director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, the first in the United States. He is also a founding member of the Appalachian Studies Association. Larry Shinn, Berea’s current President described Jones contribution to the Berean Community and the impact he has had in generating more positive perceptions of the art, history, values and culture within Appalachia stating, “Loyal has long been a passionate voice of this region.”

The Campus Christian Center, now known as the “Willis D. Weatherford, Jr. Campus Christian Center” was also renamed that morning to commemorate the late Willis D. Weatherford, the former Berea College president. Dr. Weatherford served as Berea College’s sixth president from 1967-1984. Dr. Weatherford was responsible for the creation of the Campus Christian Center. According to President Shinn, Weatherford worked with The Lilly Foundation to secure the support and endowment for the Campus Christian Center, the staff and the Eli Lilly Chair of Religion. Shinn shared, during his informative and charismatic address that it was Weatherford’s belief that “education should result not only in knowledge, but also in moral compassion. By establishing the Campus Christian Center, Weatherford sought to place Berea’s inclusive Christian ideals at the heart of the intellectual life of the college.”

These Centers reflect two of Berea College’s eight Great Commitments that include teaching more inclusive Christianity consistent with the vision of its founder John G. Fee and promoting the education of the Appalachian region and its culture. The work of these Centers, as well as of the men responsible for their establishment, has done more than enrich the life of the Berea community. The impact of these vital programs can be felt all throughout the Appalachian region but instilled in Berea's graduates and implemented throughout the world.

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