By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – October 2019 marked the last President’s Club Dinner before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
In the two years since, Campbellsville University has confronted—and overcome—difficult challenges while experiencing substantial growth.
“The state of the university in October 2021 is in good shape,” Dr. H. Keith Spears, interim president for Campbellsville University, said during the President’s Club Dinner Oct. 25 in Winters Dining Hall. “That’s our message.”
On March 13, 2020, in response to COVID-19, Campbellsville University decided to move all instruction online and send students home, Spears said.
“We made the decision students would have to go home, and we closed down this institution, not knowing what was going to happen,” Spears said. “There was no one on this campus, and it was really strange.”
The move to online instruction proved to be a challenge for students and faculty, according to Spears, but they pulled through.
“It was a challenge for the students and faculty, but there’s a lot of grit in this faculty, and they pulled it together,” Spears said. “Those students still learned at this institution even during that time, knowing the hand of God was still wrapped around them, no matter what they did.”
In his “State of the University” video address, Spears updated President’s Club members on the fall 2021 semester at Campbellsville University.
“Campbellsville University is like a tall, mighty oak tree that has bloomed into a new academic year, with a revival of excitement,” Spears said. “…The university has begun to look like its old self as students and faculty interact in the more traditional setting. COVID-19 dampened spirits last year, but the university community has overcome the malaises.”
During last week’s dinner, Spears read a resolution recognizing Donnie Gosser for his 36 years of service as a member of the Board of Trustees. He was named trustee emeritus; the first trustee to be so named. A board of trustee emeritus title is one used to designate a retired member of the board who is permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of trustee.
There are a total of 57 new members to the President’s Club for the 2019-2020 fiscal year and 107 new members to the President’s Club for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
According to Dr. Benji Kelly, vice president for development, members of the President’s Club, over the past two years, has given more than $7 million “to help build someone’s story.”
“As a two-time graduate of this institution, we greatly appreciate the support you give us,” Kelly said, “because we could not do what we do here at the university without your financial support. You are making a difference.”
Whitley Howlett, a senior from Louisville, Ky., majoring in art and graphic design, said the generosity of the President’s Club has enabled her to pursue her education at Campbellsville University.
“Because of your generosity, I was able to focus on my art, education and get very involved on campus,” Howlett, who will graduate in December, said.
During her time at Campbellsville University, Howlett has worked in the Office of University Communications as a photographer. She’s worked and volunteered with the university’s Theater Department, where she has done special effects makeup, hair, costume design, stage design and props and for several productions. Howlett also completed a mural on campus in fall 2020.
“I am beyond grateful to those who have contributed to my education through their donations to Campbellsville University and hope that you all are encouraged as much as I am when I reflect on your Christlike generosity and love for a stranger like me,” Howlett said.
Spears said Campbellsville University can grow from a good institution to a great institution.
“We ask you move forward with us in the future,” Spears said.
“Campbellsville University has been a good institution. Campbellsville city has been a good college town…but it can only be a great college town if it reflects a great university, and you’re the ones that make it great. We thank you for the Whitleys of the world, the young men and women who come here under the influence of this institution and go away better for it. On behalf of everyone here, you have our undying respect.”
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 website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.