Dedication of the Werner Library Pavilion
Remarks by President Robert R. Lindgren
September 8, 2012
Good morning and welcome to another grand occasion celebrating the continuing transformation
of this wonderful campus at Randolph-Macon College.
We come together this morning to dedicate the new John B. Werner Pavilion at McGraw-Page
Library, which contains the Hardaway Abernathy Study Room, a 24/7 study space for
students, and the George Brown Oliver Classroom, a new high-tech classroom ripe
for innovative teaching and learning.
What an asset to our students this new facility will be.
The Werner Pavilion stands proudly among both our new and existing structures as
a tangible symbol of our mission – our reason for being – to educate the whole student
– through gifted teaching, hands-on learning, co-curricular opportunities and superb
facilities. The whole student is our singular focus.
We have always done it well and now, in so many ways, we are Building Extraordinary
-- taking what we do best to a whole new level. The Werner Pavilion is another jewel
in our campus crown, sending a powerful message that Randolph-Macon is all about
learning at the highest level and is an institution on the move.
This impressive library addition is named for Trustee Emeritus and Honorary Degree
Recipient, Dr. John B. Werner, Class of 1953, who served with distinction for 20
years as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. John’s wise counsel has been
invaluable to five Randolph-Macon presidents, including me, and he is one of 33
elite alumni who have made financial contributions to Randolph-Macon for more than
The extraordinary generosity and dedication of John and Anita Werner are indeed
the stuff of celebration, for you two have been, and continue to be, stalwart supporters
of our mission.
Your commitment of time and treasure over decades is a compelling lesson in loyalty.
Your quiet but consistent support of our Phi Beta Kappa Chapter has helped us garner
This wonderful new structure, the John B. Werner Pavilion, is but one manifestation
of your generous spirit and your belief in Randolph-Macon’s unlimited potential.
So we might show our thanks and affection, John and Anita, please stand and accept
our profound appreciation.
The classroom in this building is named, appropriately, after one of Randolph-Macon’s
most beloved, respected, and on occasion, even feared, faculty members, Professor
Emeritus, George Brown Oliver. Now you might think I am talking about his former
students who feared him. No I am actually speaking of yours truly and my four predecessors,
all of whom were made more successful by the inquiring -- one might even say, skeptical
-- eye of one, Professor George Oliver.
Dr. Oliver came to Randolph-Macon as a student in 1943. Like so many of his generation,
his studies were interrupted by World War II, but he returned to earn his R-MC degree
in 1949 and then again in 1950 to begin his long and distinguished faculty career,
until his retirement in 1992. Since then he has remained an advocate for the College,
and more importantly, its principles, selflessly serving in countless alumni roles.
Dr. Oliver was and is held in high esteem by everyone he has encountered at this
great College. And I received a special insight into his influence on the lives
of students when I had the blessed opportunity to visit alumnus, Robert Hawkes,
Class of 1964, shortly before Dr. Hawkes passed away in March 2008.
Dr. Hawkes wanted to meet with me to describe why he had made a significant bequest
through his estate to the College, and he wanted my word that we would use it for
a singular purpose: to honor Dr. Oliver. You see, Bob Hawkes had followed the example
of his mentor, Dr. Oliver, and went on to become one of the first and longest tenured
members of the History and Art History Department at George Mason University, pausing
mid-career to serve as dean of Mason’s school of continuing and alternative learning.
(His mentor, Dr. Oliver, might have considered that administrative post as crossing
over to the dark side.)
In hearing Bob’s stories of his student days under George Oliver’s tutelage, it
became clear to me that Bob Hawkes was inspired and motivated throughout his own
remarkable career by the sense that he was walking in the shoes of his special mentor,
George Brown Oliver, and that his own life and career were in some way a repayment
for what George had meant to him. But he made it clear that his repayment would
not be complete without the recognition of Dr. Oliver we agreed to on that day.
What a wonderful and tangible example of the powerful influence that our faculty,
and specifically, Dr. Oliver, have had on so many of our students throughout the
years. Thank you, George.
And now for some additional special recognitions: The Werner Pavilion was designed
by the architectural firm of Glavé and Holmes and expertly constructed by English
Construction. I commend the representatives of these firms here with us today for
the superb quality of your work and for your personal commitment to this project.
Fernando Viego is here with us from Glavé and Holmes and as he stands or waves,
please join me in thanking him.
Likewise, from English Construction, we are pleased to be joined today by Charles
Santore, Richard Hughes, and R-MC alumnus, Jud Dalton. Gentleman, so that we can
thank you and your colleagues for your beautiful work, please stand or wave.
Let me also thank some key folks on our campus, without whom we could not have completed
this project successfully. Our outstanding librarian, Ginger Young, Provost Bill
Franz, project manager, Mark Brabham, Director of Operations and Physical Plant,
Tom Dwyer, and our Vice President for Administration and Finance, Paul Davies. Would
the five of you please stand or wave so you too can be recognized.
I am proud and honored to participate in today’s dedication and to thank the individuals
and groups that made this dream a reality. You will see in your program - and indoors
on a special plaque - a listing of the numerous donors who made gifts of $1,000
or more for this important project. On behalf of the students and the Randolph-Macon
community, I applaud these individuals for their generous support.
There is one additional individual donor I would like to recognize today. Hardaway
Abernathy, Class of 1939, who is one of our oldest living alumni and the person
for whom the first floor study room will named. Hardaway arrived in Ashland in 1935
from a large family in rural, Southside Virginia, and he would become the only child
in his family to attend college.
He started here in the depths of our great depression, and he graduated in 1939,
on the eve of World War II. Indeed, 96 year old Hardaway Abernathy would go on to
serve in that Great War, and he would interrupt his public school education career
in the 1950’s to serve our country once again during the Korean conflict. He is
in my mind a card-carrying member of what Tom Brokaw has so aptly described as the
Unfortunately, Hardaway’s health prevents him from being here with us this morning,
but I would like to recognize his niece, Barbara Satterwhite, and two cousins, Jackie
and Walden Abernathy, and ask them to stand and accept our thanks on Hardaway’s
I would also like to recognize our students, who contributed generously to this
project through the Student Government Association. This gift is indeed a special
one. Our student body president, Elizabeth Luminoso, a senior from Weston, Connecticut,
is with us today. Elizabeth, on behalf of the student body you so ably serve, please
stand and accept our thanks.
Finally, we would likely not be here today were it not for the generous contributions
of the Robert G. and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation, which has steadfastly supported
Randolph-Macon College for many, many years, and which made the lead gift to name
this wonderful addition after its retired executive director, John Werner. It is
my distinct pleasure to introduce Charles Cabell, President of the Cabell Foundation
and a great friend of Randolph-Macon College, to say a few more words about John,
and his impact on both the College and the Foundation.