LC in History

The Kennedy Challenge

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

Next Tuesday is election day, perhaps one of the most important contests in our nation’s history. The ballots cast, the races won, and the races lost could determine the course of our nation’s history for at least the next generation, if not beyond that. Possibly not since 1932 has the United States faced such critical choices as it does next week. If you are a registered voter, do not fail to do your civic duty.

However, in this column I want to turn back the clock to another moment in time when the horizon was cloudless, and the future stretched before some of us like a road without curves, bumps, or barriers. It was the fall of 1960.

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Gone to the Dogs

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

pupsFrom time to time the University of Lynchburg has gone to the dogs—at least in my memory. I well recall Trooper, a large black and white spaniel who guarded his mistress, Margaret Candler ’60, whenever she was on campus. She was a town student whose family lived on College Street.

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The Hundley Legacy

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

Last week as Hurricane Michael approached Central Virginia representatives from the City of Lynchburg echoed their strident remarks about College Lake—a local landmark that vanished during the night of August 2, 2018.  The powers that be in City Hall have ignored the problems associated with College Lake that have been accumulating for years like the silt and Escherichia coli which now fill the site. When the long-neglected dam—which the city owns—seemed on the verge of collapsing, the order was given that that lake be drained, and thus was removed part of the legacy of our fourth president, Dr. John T.T. Hundley, who was elected to that office on June 7, 1915.  He would alter the very character of the college during his twenty-one tenure.

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The End of An Era!

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

retirement

Last Thursday, my retirement at the end of this academic year was announced on social media, and in a heartbeat, it was all over the web. Sixty years ago, an announcement of this kind would have been appeared first in The Critograph. My career in collegiate journalism began in September 1958, but by the time I graduated in 1962, I had worked on all the Lynchburg College publications, edited The Prism, and was President of The Board of Publications.

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Parisian Dreams

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

Last Friday my wife, younger grandson, and our son returned from a trip to France. We had been part of a group that toured the battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials associated with the American soldiers who fought and died in World War I.  Our son is a museum curator, so he was one of the tour guides. I had not been in France since 1973, but slowly my command of French returned. That made all the difference in my enjoyment of our journey. Why bother to learn foreign languages? They are the gateways to truly understanding another culture. One can read the great classics in an English translation, but it is not the same. It is possible to grasp the basics of an author’s work, but the nuance is lost. This is particularly true of authors like Voltaire. Being able to speak a foreign language gives a student the chance to avoid being an ordinary tourist, but to enter another culture.        

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Lynchburg in History: Our College Lake

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

Virginia Christian College, which was our name until 1919, was in a rural setting outside the city limits of Lynchburg, just beyond the terminal point of the streetcar line.  When Westover Hall was constructed in 1890, some of the land around the structure was cleared, but the site was still heavily wooded in 1903 when Dr. Hopwood purchased the property.

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Lynchburg in History: U.L. in History

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

On April 18, 1903, Dr. Josephus Hopwood and the men who would form the core of the first Board of Trustees of Virginia Christian College paid $13,500 ($382,000 in 2018 dollars) for the deserted Westover Hotel, its contents, and a large tract of land.  The defunct resort had been built in 1890 during a nationwide land boom as the anchor of the West Lynchburg Land Company. (more…)

Soulmates

Dr. Clifton W. Potter, UofL History Professor~

After Josephus Hopwood and the young woman with whom he was engaged decided to part as friends, his thoughts turned to someone whom he had met while visiting his older sister soon after he left the army. Sarah LaRue was a classmate and friend of his niece, and she enthusiastically began a regular correspondence with Joe Hopwood. She was Kentucky born, a member of a distinguished Huguenot family, and the latest in a long line of teachers. It was with eagerness that she embraced her future husband’s dream of a life devoted to education. They were married August 19, 1874, but they postponed their honeymoon because it was time for a new school year to begin. Thus began a collaboration that would endure far into the twentieth century.

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LC in History: Last Class

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

One hundred years ago the members of the Class of 1918 were preparing for graduation and the challenges facing the United States during the second year of America’s involvement in the Great War.  Their diplomas would be the last ones to bear the name Virginia Christian College.

Today the members of the Class of 2018 are preparing for graduation and the challenges facing our nation in the complex world in which we live today.  Their diplomas will be the last to bear the name Lynchburg College. (more…)

LC in History: An Honor to Hopwood

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

Until last year, Lynchburg College was the only senior institution of higher learning in our area that did not have a building on either the Virginia Landmarks Register or the National Register of Historic Places on its main campus. On Saturday morning at 11:15 we shall gather on the porch of Hopwood Hall to unveil and dedicate the bronze plaque that corrects that omission. Hopwood Hall has received both honors.

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LC in History: Celebrating Students

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., Staff Writer~

Two events mark the beginning of the end of the academic session, the Student Scholar Showcase and the Academic Awards Banquet.  This year they both occurred last week, the former on Wednesday and the latter on Friday. A month from now we shall be in the midst of graduation weekend; where does the time go?

Last week both students and faculty were able to enjoy the 18th annual Student Scholar Showcase because there were no classes. Those persons who were responsible for organizing this wonderful activity have my sincere admiration. However, this experience reminds me of what I learned of a similar annual affair which occurred before I entered Lynchburg College. (more…)

Nerd Factor: For the Love of HAL

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” one of the most important science fiction movies ever made. This sprawling vision of human history was directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, who also co-wrote the film with another legend, prolific writer and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke. The movie opens in prehistory as our primate ancestors struggle to survive. It closes with a hallucinogenic journey into the unknown that ultimately hints at the destiny of our species.  However, it’s the middle of the film that often garners the most attention (and not just because it’s easier to understand). (more…)

LC in History: Our Own Voltaire

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

It has been often said that each one of us had a double somewhere in the world.  As a historian, I tend to equate the people I know with historical personalities.  One member of our faculty resembled the great Greek philosopher, Socrates. Another could have been the twin of the Italian patriot, Giuseppe Garibaldi. A retired member of the administration was a “dead ringer” for Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the father of Italian unification.  Don Evans, who taught art at Lynchburg College from 1948 until his retirement in 1983, not only looked like the greatest of the French philosophes, François Marie Arouet de Voltaire, he acted like him. (more…)

LC in History: Origins of the Arts

LC in History: Origins of the Arts

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

Last week while I was waxing nostalgic about the play, “Journey’s End, I only briefly mentioned the man responsible for our being there in the first place.  There were dramatic presentations at Lynchburg College from 1903, but until 1949 there was no department of dramatic arts; then Bob Hailey arrived.  Over the next 44 years, Dr. Robert Carter Hailey Sr. built one of the most popular programs and departments on campus. He essentially started with nothing, and when he retired in 1993, the Dillard Fine Arts Center was regarded by many as proof that dreams really do come true. Of course, Bob did not accomplish great things without the help of hundreds of students and faculty members, but he was like the Pied Piper. (more…)

LC in History: Gender Ratio Displacement

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor

As part of the history department’s celebration of Women’s History Month, last Wednesday Jane VanBoskirk, ’70 presented her one-woman show “Eleanor Roosevelt – Across a Barrier of Fear” to an enthusiastic “town and gown” audience. As perhaps the most influential First Lady in our nation’s history, Mrs. Roosevelt served as the eyes and ears of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was a victim of polio. She was also one of his most trusted advisers, and there were only a few New Deal programs implemented between 1933 and 1945 that she did not influence.  She was dedicated to gender equality, racial equality and providing the less fortunate with every possible opportunity to build better lives for themselves and their families. (more…)

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