Bluefield University President, Dr. David W. Olive, encouraged students reminding them about the importance placed on servant leadership at Bluefield University saying, “The only way you can truly make a difference and transform the world is by serving others,” during the President’s Convocation and Founders’ Day Celebration to kick off the school’s 2019-2020 academic year, on August 21.
President Olive welcomed both new and returning students, who filled BU’s Harman Chapel, to the traditional commencement event. In addition to students, faculty, and staff, he acknowledged special guests in attendance, including members of the Board of Trustees, and BU First Lady Kathryn Olive. The president spoke about the school’s origin and how the Founders’ Day Celebration provided the BU family the opportunity to reflect on those who have sacrificially given of themselves to make the University what it is today. He also shared the mission of the University with those in attendance which is to be a Christ-centered learning community developing servant leaders to transform the world.
In addition, President Olive discussed the four core values of Bluefield University. Value One: We are Christian in outlook, Baptist in tradition, and welcoming to each person. Value Two: We are committed to academic excellence and life-long inquiry embracing the liberal arts tradition through the study of humanities, sciences, professional studies, and graduate programs. Value Three: We are a diverse community characterized by integrity, mutual respect, support, and encouragement. Value Four: We are passionate about helping students understand their life calling and become compassionate globally-minded servant leaders.
But, the president’s primary message for the day focused on scripture from the Gospel of Matthew and how Jesus calls us to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”
“How do salt and light relate to the mission of Bluefield University?” asked Dr. Olive. “Light is associated with knowledge, and as a Christian University, we have that at the core of what we do. It’s all about teaching you and helping you grow in your knowledge. But as a Christian University, we also reflect the type of light Jesus refers to in the scripture of Matthew. Jesus calls us to do something different from the darkened world. As Christ-followers, we have something we can shine into this darkened world so that the world can see Christ through us.”
Dr. Olive noted the significance of the title of the school’s published history, A Lighthouse on the Hill, written by Dr. Armbrister. Bluefield University, he said, “was founded with a purpose to not only educate and broaden minds but also to deepen faith and spiritual journeys.” The BU mission “to develop transformational servant leaders,” he said, “comes from this notion of being salt and light.”
Other special guests offered similar greetings to students as part of the President’s Convocation, including Board of Trustees member Mr. John Beckett, faculty president Dr. Richard Farmer, and Student Government Association president Aynae Simmons, who told her fellow classmates to, “push, hustle, and pray as you continue your journey.”
The President’s Convocation and Founders’ Day Celebration also included a message Bluefield University Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Development, Michael J. White, whose message entitled “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly” centered around scripture from Micah 6:8 which reminds us of God’s expectation of us to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. V.P. White told students they have the ability to transform the world.
Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs recognized the 2018-2019 Scholar Athletes who achieved a 3.25-grade point average or higher during the academic year as well as the President’s List and Dean’s List for Spring 2019. The event also included special music from the Variations Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. John Moir, assistant professor of music; a congregational hymn and the singing of the alma mater, led by Dr. Charles Priest, associate professor of music; a song of response by Mr. David Pedde, director of the center of the worship arts, and a scripture reading by Ms. Connie Elkins, assistant professor of psychology.
New faculty and staff were also introduced by Dr. Marshall Flowers, vice president for academic affairs & athletics, and Mrs. Ruth Blankenship, vice president for finance and administration. Those introduced to the audience included Joshua Cline, vice president for institutional advancement; Connie Elkins, assistant professor of psychology; Leslie Floyd, assistant professor of early childhood education; Dr. Darrin Martin, dean of academic support and the ACE Center; Runie Mensche, senior director for student thriving and success; Tonia Walker, athletic director; Lindsey Akers, director of marketing and public relations; Lynne Bartlett, reference and electronic resources librarian; Alyssa Gore, enrollment counselor for online programs; Ashley McClanahan, IST network manager; Tyler Myers, campus safety officer; Micayla Sharkey, coordinator of student care and advocacy; and Nathan Wilson, assistant football coach. New adjunct faculty members introduced included Shannon Bashlor, nursing; Danny Rife, business; Dr. Ellen Jones, business; and Anna Watson; education. New part-time administrative personnel includes Quentin Crenshaw, bus driver; and Mary Jo White, transcript evaluator.
Dr. Darrin Martin, dean of academic support and the Ace Center, provided the benediction for the event.