Homecoming 2017 – A Commitment Conference
by Tony Lewis, Vice Chairman, Knoxville College Board of Trustees
On Saturday morning, somewhere between 150 to 200 people packed the meeting room at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on Dandridge Ave for the 3rd Annual Commitment Conference. This event has become a staple on the Homecoming Events Calendar over the past three years. The Conference is the time when representative of the college, including the president and chairman of the board, make a presentation on the status of the college to the alumni and the alumni in attendance have an opportunity to interact with questions, suggestions, or observations. Music from the Alumni Gospel Jubilee Choir and a “Motivational Moment” by Dr. Brenda White Wright ('70) quickly put the occasion into high energy mode.
Interim President Dr. Keith Lindsey presented the “State of the College Report” and he talked of his and the Board of Trustee’s vision and activities to support enrolling students and reinstituting educational instruction at Knoxville College in 2018. Some activities included completing the application to the Tennessee Higher Education Authority for certification in order to begin teaching again, the development of the platform for the online instructions and the overhaul of the fiscal management operations. Interim President Lindsey repeated his theme of “Rebirth, Rebuild and Reenergize.” He described the process as a “phoenix rising from the ashes” and he said it can only be done with financial and moral support and the involvement of alumni.
Coordinated with the Interim President’s presentation was a presentation by Trustee C. Virginia Fields ('67), who laid out and reviewed the financial status of the college with the audience via a Power Point presentation, as well as the 2017-2018 budget for the college. Field’s presentation was followed by an elaborate Power Point presentation by Trustee Leonard Adams ('94), Chairman of the Board of Trustee’s Building and Grounds Committee, describing the current conditions of all of the buildings, the repairs and restorations that have been made, as well as the current schedule of planned maintenance and restoration.
Adams also described two “Public-Private Partnerships” with the City and County governments – one entering into a long-term rental lease of the library with the County government; and two, the possible sale of a track of land on the back of the campus and the land now occupied by the Colston Center to the City in exchange for cash and a commitment to clear a large part of the dilapidated buildings remaining on the campus. Of course, no building or ground can be sold until the outstanding loan is satisfied.
This year’s presentations also included remarks from State Representative Rick Staples who gave his pledge to fight for support for Knoxville College at the state level, and more specifically, to seek funding to help the college operate. The response from the alumni attending the Commitment Conference was overwhelming. “I think this Commitment Conference was the jumpstart to KC’s future. You can see in their faces and hear it in their voices – this gave them hope.” said Anthony Lloyd ('83), Chairman of the 2017 Homecoming Committee.
Brenda Monroe-Moses ('68) said, “I was encouraged and inspired by what I saw and heard. We have a glorious past; with the help of God we will have a promising future. Knoxville College can be restored. God is still working miracles and I believe that He’s not through with KC yet.” Another alumnus overheard speaking to Interim President Lindsey stated, “I was one who had stop giving, but after today I will begin making contributions again.” One by one alumni stated how happy they were with the fact that they had come to the Conference and heard and saw the plans and progress themselves. One said, “this has got to be the best one ever. I’m excited about the future.”
In the end, the success of Knoxville College will depend on the authenticity of the leadership, the administration, and the alumni. For now there is hope.