By Ariel C. Emberton, staff writer/photographer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “A Tiger won’t let anything get in its way, and I ask you to be like that Tiger. Do not let these major challenges stop you from being the person and the servant leader that we know you can be,” Dr. H. Keith Spears, acting president at Campbellsville University, said at the university’s first chapel service of the semester Jan. 13.
Spears, who has been employed at Campbellsville University since 2009, was appointed by the Board of Trustees to step into the role of acting president after the retirement of Dr. Michael V. Carter and his wife, Debbie Carter.
Spears said the weekly chapel service gives people the chance to share and get to know each other. It also gives people a chance to pause, he said.
“I beseech you to use this time to take a breather from the everyday and to discover more about the university, your world and yourselves,” Spears said.
He said chapel is an opportunity to meditate and for people to find themselves closer to God. Spears spoke about growth and told students it was also their responsibility to help Campbellsville University build on the past and grow for the next generation of students.
Spears spoke about growing up in West Virginia as the son of parents who firmly believed in education. They were limited in their own education but they assured Spears would be the first generation of his family to attend and graduate from college, which he did.
“It’s my prayer that they would be pleased with this intangible gift that they have provided and what I have done with it,” he said. He asked that students wave at Harold and Elizabeth Spears (his parents) as they pass by Bruce the Tiger near the Winters Dining Hall, which was dedicated by the Spears family.
Upon students returning to campus, Spears said, “We’ve all lived through a year of COVID-19.” The university has scrunched schedules and moved classes to remote and hybrid learning. Meals have been moved to to-go boxes. Activities are vacant and students have lived the life of a hermit. Spears said the university’s physical plant and student services worked diligently to get everything ready for the students to return safely.
“You, like the rest of the world, have learned new ways to make this idea of higher education work. You’ve worn masks, you’ve kept your social distance, dealt with Plexiglass barriers, repeated your nasal swab test and developed new levels of sanitation, allowing all of this to become the standard. We can expect more of the same,” he said.
Spears said safety and health are a primary concern for those at the university. University offices will be open to welcome students back to campus.
“I ask everyone to be patient and respect the social distances in order to keep our university’s faculty and staff safe from this plague that remains upon us,” Spears said.
He gave a brief update on physical campus changes including the opening of the new Mass Communication Center and the Finley Stadium press box on main campus.
At Harrodsburg, the first major post-graduate doctorate professional school, School of Chiropractic, will be opening later this year with its first student cohort. Tiger Hall at the Louisville Education Center will be undergoing final renovations to include the welcome center and its admissions offices. A new location in Windsor, Ontario, Canada has also been approved.
“We have evolved into the Campbellsville University system. The business you have been enrolled in is different than any other enterprise. What we have for you is a product, and we call it education,” Spears said.
“I can’t hand you a pocket full of education and don’t expect us to go over to the shelf and pull down a bag full of education and pass it across the counter. What Campbellsville University does for you is it brings you an opportunity to learn and to prepare yourself for a career, one that you may not even realize exists yet.
“We help you change your life for the better. We say we produce or create servant leaders. That’s what you will be one day,” Spears said.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 13,500 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.