Aug. 12, 2009
For Immediate Release
Campbellsville University names nursing building in honor of former trustees Jerry Bennett and Tom Smith
By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Jerry Bennett and Tom Smith were the heart and soul of Campbellsville University’s nursing program.
The two men were honored yesterday when the Bennett-Smith Nursing Building was named for them as their families watched and remembered.
Campbellsville University President Michael V. Carter called the late members of the CU Board of Trustees as “two of the finest men I have ever known.”
He said, “We would not be in this building if it were not for the two of them. They were remarkable champions to see this building built and the program it houses. They knew nursing was a great fit to the mission of CU.”
Carter said, “Both men were visionary, gifted in handling business, kind, Godly, and looked out for everyone else before they thought of themselves. They loved Campbellsville University and worked tirelessly to see the university serve students, faculty, staff and coaches.”
Pat Burkhart, a member of the board who worked with both men, said everyone will be touched directly or indirectly by a nurse at one of the most fragile times in their lives.
She said the caring and love a nurse gives to a patient translates to trust, and CU is training men and women to make ethical and moral decisions.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor these two men,” she said. “There are big smiles in heaven today.”
She quoted James 1:17 which says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”
Dr. Jay Conner, the chair of the CU Board of Trustees, said he saw Bennett, as he himself was a new member of the board, and said, “I want to be like Jerry.”
“He was an inspiration to us for the contributions he made to the school, board and the community,” Conner said. “He was smart and extremely committed.”
Jackie Bennett Roberts unveils one of two plaques in the Bennett-Smith Nursing Building. With her was her daughter, Jennifer; and her son, Jeff. (Campbellsville University Photo by Joan C. McKinney)
Bennett was from Campbellsville and died May 30, 2006. He had recently completed three terms as chair of the board of trustees. He was president and part owner of Campbellsville Industries Inc., and he was said to have had his hand all over Campbellsville University in the shaping of buildings and programs throughout campus.
“Tom Smith would have been chairman of the board at some point,” Conner said. “He was smart and financially astute. He was so strategic in how he thought.”
“He was a great man,” Conner said, “who contributed mightily to the school, his families and all he touched.”
Smith was vice chair of the CU Board of Trustees at the time of his death June 6, 2004, and had served on both the financial and business committees. He was the president and chief executive officer of Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, Ky.
Carter said the two men had given 21 years of “sacrificial service” to CU, and that not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of them and how they would advise us to act in a a given situation.
Carter said Bennett designed the nursing building, and the administration liked it so well that the new education building is of the same design.
“Both men were Godly men who were truly visionary leaders who worked hard, were extremely honest men who were proud of their families, churches and who loved the university.”
Dr. Frank Cheatham, vice president for academic affairs at CU, said the nursing program began in 2001 with a dream led by Smith. He pointed out both men were CU alumni, and said, “I consider it a privilege and pleasure to have called them friends. It’s a great day to honor these two great individuals.”
Benji Kelly, vice president for development, gave the welcome for the ceremony, and Dr. James Jones, a member of the board of trustees who serves the university as Church Relations Council outreach special assistant, gave the opening prayer. The closing prayer was given by Bob Wade, the new dean of the School of Nursing.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his 11th year as president.