University Point: Construction Begins
Athens, W.Va. – During the 1930s, Concord President J. Franklin Marsh Sr. and a handful of determined alumni envisioned an interfaith chapel at Concord. And now, construction on the long-awaited project has begun.
City Window, from Clarksburg, provided the qualified low bid of $5.3 million for the project. The Concord University Foundation has a commitment of $4.1 million in funds raised and pledges from key benefactors and others, with plans to raise an additional $1.2 million.
“We hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in 2005 to publicly thank the Wilkes family from Beckley and the Erickson Foundation for their support, which is critical to the project,” stated Mr. Jim Cannon, vice president for business and finance. “First Lady Gayle Manchin, as well as representatives from our alumni and Foundation, students, faculty and staff participated in the ceremony, celebrating the dream that was nearing reality.”
Staff members representing Concord University, IKM Architects, City Window (general contractors), and others met on Tuesday, April 22 to outline a plan of action for staging materials and construction facilities. Work has already commenced, with heavy equipment operators clearing the site. Public safety officers at CU are working with the team to minimize disruptions to normal traffic flow.
“It is common procedure for a project of this scope to hold regular meetings among all representatives, and we will be meeting every two weeks. Builders should complete the project in approximately 540 working days. Accounting for rain days and such; we are estimating that the project will be complete by December 2009,” Cannon concluded.
Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, said in his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, “Those who know the history of this particular community and this college should not be surprised that such values remain constant here. After all,” noted Dr. Beasley, “the college was named for a church where three denominations shared the premises in ‘sweet harmony and concord.’
”Just as the chapel invites us to consider timeless values and concerns, the alumni center will provide a meeting ground for loyal friends of Concord from across the generations … continually rededicating themselves to the higher purposes of this University.”
More recently, Beasley noted that faculty are crafting plans for an academic program of study—possibly an area of emphasis—in religious studies. “An understanding of religion and faith is essential to world citizenship, which is critical to fulfilling our mission. This facility will be a beacon on campus to welcome people of all faiths,” he concluded.
Supporters who began raising money for the interfaith chapel project right after World War II raised nearly $120,000. A group of Concord alumni and their friends, in the early 1980s, established a foundation with the intent of raising funds for the construction of the chapel. Since 2003, momentum has built with the addition of grants, bequests, and donations. More recently, the Wilkes family from Beckley, the Erickson Foundation, Inc., and President, Emeritus, Joseph F. Marsh, have significantly supported the project. Additional support has been provided by the Hugh I. Shott Foundation from Bluefield; alumnus, Bill Hughes; the estate of Lloyd Moye; James H. “Buck” Harless; and many others.
The Interfaith Chapel Foundation was created to help meet the spiritual needs of people at Concord by establishing a chapel on campus and by providing guidance and coordination for efforts to meet those needs.
An alumni center will also be incorporated into the structure to facilitate stronger relations with the University's 14,000 alumni and friends.
Naming opportunities are still available. Architectural drawings are online; log on to www.concord.edu > Alumni & Donors> University Point for more information.
PHOTO: Representatives from CU, IKM (architectural firm), City Window (general contractor), and others include the following: (front row, left to right) Jeff Shumaker, CU; Beau Henderson, contractor; Chuck Pickens, contractor; Lisa Whitney, IKM; Joel Bernard, IKM; (back row, left to right) John Ferguson, CU; Jim Cannon, CU; Jeff Boothe, contractor; Bret Whitten, contractor; Keith Klinn, contractor; and Cam Stewart, contractor.
PHOTO: Heavy equipment is on site at CU.