Library holds McConnell Day celebration, receives scholarship endowment


Members of the Madrigal Singers perform the RU alma mater in honor of John Preston McConnell.

John Preston McConnell

John Preston McConnell

A new endowment, bestowed in honor of the fourth annual McConnell Day, will generate scholarships for future students and commemorate John Preston McConnell, the founding president of Radford University.

On Friday, Feb. 21, McConnell Library celebrated the 148th anniversary of McConnell’s birthday. McConnell Day is one of the library's most treasured happenings and it provides the RU campus with an important link to the past.

Steve Helm, dean of the library, was on hand to emcee the event. With his opening remarks he reflected on the founder.

"We have great respect for Dr. McConnell and his indelible legacy on Radford," Helm said, before expressing his thanks for the honor of working in a building named for the educator.

The link between founder and university is now even stronger with the establishment of the Dr. John Preston McConnell Memorial Scholarship. The $40,000 endowment was presented to RU by Bobby D. McConnell, grandmaster of the McConnell and Related Family Clans (MRFC), along with additional funds raised since the initial endowment.

The John Preston McConnell Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to a Radford University undergraduate student with an excellent resume of success in academics, leadership and service. Eligible students will be Scott County, Va. residents or relatives of the McConnell family.

Richard Alvarez and Bobby D. McConnell

Richard Alvarez, chief financial officer and vice president for Finance and Administration at RU, accepted the endowment from Bobby D. McConnell on behalf of the university.

Prior to the presentation of the endowment, David Horton, assistant to the dean of RU’s College of Science and Technology, shared stories and insights about Radford's opening semester in the fall of 1913 and McConnell's influence on the school.

"He believed in equal access to education for all people," Horton said. "He saw that as the rising tide that would raise all ships."

Meredith Sommers, archivist at McConnell’s alma mater, Milligan College, presented "Rich Rewards of the Teachers: the Hopwoods, J.P. McConnell, and a Legacy of Education." Sommers delved into the life of the founder's mentor, Josephus Hopwood, who would inspire McConnell to a career in education.

Members of Radford's Madrigal Singers also joined the festivities, offering a rousing rendition of the university alma mater and modern take on a birthday song originally written by students for McConnell's birthday in 1922.

For more information about McConnell Library, visit its website.

Feb 25, 2014