By Alexandria Swanger, communications assistant, Office of University Communications at Campbellsville University
“When I heard that this much needed addition to the CU campus was to be named in her honor, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate pairing,” said Whitney Christopoulos, a granddaughter of the late Betty Dobbins Heilman, was one of the speakers at the dedication of the Betty Dobbins Heilman Student Wellness Center July 13 at Campbellsville University. The dedication was in Ransdell Chapel due to the heat.
“Betty Heilman was always focused on the wellness of others: physical, emotional and mental wellness. This building is a wonderful addition to an amazing school and will be a place students, faculty, staff and coaches can come to focus on wellness. I can think of nothing that would please my grandmother more than to see her generosity go toward the enrichment of the current and future alumni of her alma mater.”
Christopoulos was one of six individuals who spoke of the impact that has been made by her grandparents at Campbellsville University and the legacy that continues through Dr. Heilman’s dedication to the advancement of the university and her students as he approaches his 93rd birthday, which was Tuesday, July 16.
Heilman is a 1949 graduate of Campbellsville Junior College, and Mrs. Heilman graduated in 1948.
Benji Kelly, vice president for development, welcomed guests of the university, those in attendance from the community and the Heilman family who had come to support their father and late mother. He also welcomed the university’s master planner, Mark Hartman, who was introduced to CU by Dr. Heilman over 19 years ago.
He updated guests about the status of the university’s extended capital campaign and the progress made toward the Heilman buildings, of which $2 million has already been raised for the Wellness Center and over $3 million for the Welcome Center.
Kelly called the upcoming Welcome Center, “one of the largest projects we have done on campus in addition to the Ransdell Chapel.”
Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, spoke of Dr. Heilman and his wife Betty’s history at CU, then Campbellsville Junior College. He explained that upon completing his time in the United States Marine Corps in World War II, Dr. Heilman’s friend, Robert Oldham, encouraged him to come to Campbellsville. He initially dismissed the idea, seeing as how he hadn’t finished high school and had already been rejected by several other institutions.
However, after being accepted by Campbellsville Junior College, he ate lunch on campus for the first time and enjoyed the chocolate pie so much he asked for a second piece. One of the women serving the food told him the college couldn’t afford to give him a second piece and instead gave him her own. Ten days later he asked Betty Dobbins, the woman serving the pie, to marry him.
Carter recalled how “instrumental” Dr. Heilman was in recruiting him over 20 years ago while on the search committee for a president following the tenure of Dr. Kenneth W. Winters.
He credited Heilman as being “the individual who has always been able to see beyond the horizon, dream the dream and not get caught up in the inertia of why we can’t do it.”
Carter explained how Heilman has always pushed the perceived limits for the university and has been dedicated to advancing and bettering her in any way possible. He said none would have been possible without Dr. Heilman having Mrs. Heilman supporting him, likening her to 1 Corinthians 13:4.
“Betty was always traveling with Bruce, always being that voice of encouragement, always being positive… she was always that positive, encouraging presence, you just left stronger and better after you had been with her,” Carter said.
Dr. Donnie Gosser, a Campbellsville University Board of Trustees member, thanked Heilman for being willing to undertake projects such as the Wellness and Welcome Centers.
“I thank you very much for what you’ve done and what you’ve brought forward to make Campbellsville University what it is today compared to what it was 20 years ago.”
Shirley Davis, first lady of the College of the Ozarks, said she believed she and Mrs. Heilman were ordained by God for their roles as first ladies. She discussed how the various attributes they both possessed enabled them to positively help their husbands throughout their institutional presidencies.
She said they tried to be a “sounding board and listening ear,” hospitable, a quiet and complementary leadership and a supportive wife and mother who held down the family as their husbands traveled and worked for the betterment of their institutions.
Her husband, Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of the College of the Ozarks, was present for the ceremonies, as was Dr. Kenneth W. Winters, who preceded Carter, and his wife, Shirley. Dr. John Roush, president of Centre College, and his wife, Susie, were also present.
Heilman thanked everyone for attending the ceremonies and acknowledged that the audience included many people who had significantly impacted his life. He told the story how he had brought his marriage license, signed by then Campbellsville Junior College president Dr. John M. Carter after he officiated their wedding, and talked about the impact Campbellsville has had on his life since then.
He recalled how his wife was always mature, both from life’s circumstances and her experience at the college and was a “deeply committed Christian.”
“I am proud to acknowledge the fact that my life professionally, individually, socially, church-wise – she was the balance on the other side of whatever I could or could not do. So, I am proud to see her name on the building.”
Christopoulos asked everyone to remember her grandmother for the principles she lived by and to emulate them in our own everyday lives.
“My grandmother lived a life of kindness and compassion, two attributes I would argue are integral to the foundation of wellness: physical wellness, mental wellness and emotional wellness. Every time we come to this building let us remember to live out those two words in our actions and deeds and focus on the wellness not just of ourselves, but of all of us. That is the legacy my grandmother would be proud to know she left behind.”
A portrait of Mrs. Heilman painted by Lee Jackson, and a plaque dedicating the Wellness Center, were unveiled to be placed in the foyer upon its completion.
The event was followed by a groundbreaking ceremony at the site where the new E. Bruce Heilman Welcome Center will be built on campus. This is the third building in the E. Bruce Heilman Student Complex.
Dr. John Chowning, assistant to the president of Campbellsville University, gave the invocation, and Dr. Joseph Owens, a member of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, gave the prayer of dedication.
For more information about donations to the two new buildings on campus, contact Benji Kelly, vice president for development, at (270) 789-5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.
Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.