MOUNT OLIVE — On Tuesday, Nov. 27, Mount Olive College held the official unveiling of the J. William and Marvis E. “Marcy” Byrd Apartment Complex and Assembly Hall signage and plaque honoring the Byrds for their service and contributions to the College.
During the presentation, current President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter detailed some of the many accomplishments and contributions made by the Byrds during their years of service to the College. Dr. Byrd was the third president of Mount Olive College and now holds the title of president emeritus. A native son of Mount Olive, Dr. Byrd’s academic career included positions at East Carolina University and Appalachian State University. He returned to Mount Olive and became president of Mount Olive College in 1995 and served through 2009. During his tenure as president, the College significantly expanded its service to the region and to its nontraditional students through opening locations of Mount Olive College in New Bern, Washington, RTP, Wilmington, and Jacksonville. Today, approximately 5,000 students are served annually at the 7 locations of the college.
It was also noted that Byrd led a very successful capital campaign. “As a result of the campaign, notable physical changes have occurred, including the construction of two academic buildings – Raper Hall and the Communications building, the Pope Wellness Center, which has been an important facility serving both the campus and the community, and the Whitfield and Herring Residence Halls,” Kerstetter noted. “During all of those activities, Marcy played an active role overseeing the interior décor of these facilities. She also was an ardent supporter of numerous programs and projects meant to bring together the campus and the community, including designing the Alumni Crosswalk.”
In recognition of the Byrds significant contributions to the growth and development of Mount Olive College, the Board of Trustees authorized the naming of the Mount Olive School Apartment Complex after Bill and Marcy. The complex is located on the site of the former Mount Olive High School, where Byrd graduated as class valedictorian in 1955.
“Bill and Marcy, on behalf of Mount Olive College, thank you for your service and your many, many contributions to Mount Olive College,” Kerstetter stated. “Congratulations!”
In response Byrd said, “I never had any expectation that I was going to come back here and serve as president of Mount Olive College. However, it was a wonderful opportunity for me. I had an obligation to come back and use whatever talents I had towards important development in our local community.” Byrd noted that not everything was easy as president, but he acknowledged the faculty and staff for their support. “And for the representatives from the faculty and the staff who are here, I’m grateful to you and all of your colleagues for the wonderful support that I got through the years. When I was struggling, you were struggling, and the Board was struggling to try to find the path, to find a way that was going to make this institution into what it could be. And, it is on the path of being that. It still isn’t what it can be. It will continue to grow. If we ever get to the point that we think that it is what it should be, then we will be on top of the hill and headed toward the slope downward on the other side. I very much believe that. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you’re not willing to take risks, then the progress that you can accomplish is going to be severely limited. You might be able to get there, but you won’t get there nearly as well.”
Byrd reminisced about the building saying, “I first started to attend classes in that building when I was in the seventh grade. The building itself certainly jogs lots of memories for me, and the events that took place there, but more than the building itself was the people who were there. I learned about people in that building, and I laid the foundation for my professional interests for the rest of my life under the tutelage of a very caring faculty.” In closing he said, “Thank you for being here. I would like to say a special thank you to the Board and to Dr. Kerstetter for allowing Marcy and me to be remembered in such a magnificent way.”
Constructed in 1925, the Mount Olive High School Apartments and Assembly Hall is one of only four structures within the city limits of Mount Olive to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The 39,310 feet structure sits on 2.0 acres of land. Included in the Mount Olive School Apartments are nine, one bedroom apartments ranging from 600 to 747 square feet and ten, two bedroom apartments ranging from 800 to 935 square feet. Mount Olive College acquired the buildings in December 2011 as a gift from Progress Energy.
Mount Olive College is a private, liberal arts institution dedicated to the total development of its students in an environment nurtured by Christian values. The college, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington, and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.