I am honored to be a part of the dedication of Andrews Hall and to speak to the
contributions of Ira Andrews during my tenure at Randolph-Macon College.
In 1971 I applied to Randolph-Macon College a small private college describing itself
as representing an educational ideal of a “College for the Individual Man." This
was further described in the same catalog as an education centered around the individual,
his needs and aspirations. A Randolph-Macon education involves direct participation
by the individual and seeks to develop each student’s full potential. In short,
Randolph-Macon strives to be a “college for the individual man."
Apparently, I was an easy sell since this same catalog put a sticker on the front
of it saying NOW! College for The Individual Woman, Too COEDUCATION IN 1971
and on that day when the sticker was stuck on the R-MC brochure Dean Ira Andrews
life and my life were to be changed forever.
On March 11, 1971 I received a letter from Becky Severin in the Admissions Office:
How does it feel to be a potential member of the “elite few”? Congratulations! There
are about 700 guys who are waiting to welcome you, too…
And, once again for both Dean Ira Andrews and myself our lives were once again changed
yet we had not yet met.
In September 1971 Dean Ira Andrews I met for the first time. And, of course, when
I met the Dean of Students, I met the Dean of Men and our Dean of Women, Dean Betty
It was apparent from the first meeting that these two would be a formidable pair
in providing leadership to this strange new co-ed culture at RMC. I could tell from
the beginning that Dean Andrews knew what we were up to...he just had that sixth
sense and also he spent lots of face time with students in the fountain area so
he and Dean Seymour were hard to avoid. As many of you know these were challenging
times for academic and student leaders, with the Vietnam War protests and counter-culture
activities present and now adding a cadre of new female students in the mix. Dean
Andrews was exactly the leader needed to guide us during these times.
Again, returning to the pages of the 1971 RMC brochure:
Each student is assumed to be honest and responsible. The honor system, established
and governed by students, is an integral part of this responsibility. The student
is on his own. Self-discipline, honor and integrity are important qualities each
student at Randolph-Macon should cultivate. As a member of the college community,
the student shares not only the responsibilities but also plays an active role in
the decision-making concerning his own affairs.
Does this description about an ideal student also describe the Dean who we are honoring
today with this remarkable building celebration?
As to why it is so important to name this remarkable new residence hall at Randolph-Macon
after Ira Andrews let’s remember where most of our students spend their time in
college? For most students, the residence hall is our second home when we attend
college. We make lifelong friends, we combine academic and social lives and we grow
In 1971 it was the backdrop for all kinds of expression about the global world and
the small community of Randolph-Macon College. Mary Branch residence hall, my new
home for 3 years, became the College’s home for protests on the war and protests
on the different rules being applied to women attending the College. Again, how
did Dean Ira Andrews respond? By teaching and leading us in the classroom and connecting
those teachings to life, by observing what we were doing, from the fountain area,
of course, by talking to us and really trying to understand our feelings and then
by guiding us to do things in a responsible way so that we would not end up regretting
our actions. In talking to my friends from this era of RMC we all felt like we could
change the world for the better and we truly believed that our actions would do
this and we felt supported and safe with Dean Andrews as our leader. And, isn’t
that feeling that one can change the world the greatest outcome a college and its
student and academic leaders can provide for their students?
Of course, as we moved beyond the protests we also have Ira Andrews to thank for
holding us accountable for our personal actions. This is not the time for personal
stories but just to let you know that my parents were relieved to hear that one
of their many letters from Dean Andrews wasn’t about my R-MC boyfriend staying in
my dorm room after men’s visiting hours (yes, there were such rules at the time!)
but this time it was my very large Irish Setter needing to move out from my dorm
room. Go figure? And, of course, for those of you who may be concerned about my
mention of a boyfriend at R-MC in my room, not to worry, we have now been married
for almost 37 years.
Again, when talking to my friends from R-MC about our time at the College and those
who impacted us the most Dean Ira Andrews is the name that comes up universally.
Once his name comes up, the stories are endless and end with genuine admiration
for this man’s commitment to our development as responsible adults and his endless
patience. He was everyone’s best friend, teacher and mentor and at the same time
our gentle leader on the pathway to adulthood. And, we thank him for this by honoring
him with Andrews Hall. May consecutive new generations of students have the same
wonderful and transformative experience we had at R-MC guided by the name of Dean
And, finally let me end with one more excerpt about R-MC from the 1971 catalog that
seems to be written for what Dean Ira Andrews inspires and has inspired for generations
at RMC and what I hope and know the naming of this building will represent for our
entire college community:
Whether in or out of the classroom, the student will find the College to be much
more than a place, a group of buildings. College is a set of experiences, academic
and social. Randolph-Macon seeks to provide a certain set of experiences that protects
individual freedom and requires individual responsibility. Randolph-Macon education,
therefore, is comprised of every experience, every decision, every morsel of learning
the student strives to possess.
Thank you, Dean Ira Andrews for what you have done for so many students over so
many years at R-MC to enrich our experiences at RMC.