On July 31, 2002, Mount Vernon Nazarene College celebrated its historical transformation into Mount Vernon Nazarene University during a ceremony held on the campus lawn outside the R.R. Hodges Chapel Auditorium. Throughout the ceremony, the campus community and friends heard from MVNU President Dr. E. LeBron Fairbanks, Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. James Couchenour, Mount Vernon City Mayor Richard Mavis, Academic Dean and Provost Dr. Henry Smith, and Alumni Director Mike Cheek.
Dr. Couchenour stated, “Not only is this our beginning as a University, but a certification of what has happened in the past. The foundation of all that we see here today is to the glory of God.” He also congratulated the administration, faculty, and staff on what a profound impact they have had on the campus over the years.
During the ceremony, three flags were raised: the American, the Christian, and the new MVNU flag. The American flag was raised in honor of MVNC alumna Molly (Hornberger ’85) McKenzie, who was tragically killed while working in the Pentagon as a financial analyst on 9/11. A plaque was placed at the base of the flagpole in Molly’s memory. During the raising of the MVNU flag, the new alma mater was sung for the first time by the campus community.
Mayor Richard Mavis proclaimed Aug. 1, 2002, as MVNU Day in the city of Mount Vernon and urged all citizens to join in the celebration of the growth and accomplishments of the University.
Dr. Fairbanks spoke on the defining moments of the University including beginning as “Zone A Nazarene College” in 1966, moving from a two-year to a four-year baccalaureate-granting college in 1974, adding non-traditional programs in 1993, purchasing Pinecrest Farm in 1999, and finally, beginning the transition to University in March 2001. He also discussed what the transition would do for the University saying, “The change will fundamentally enable the institution to do more in the years to come.”
“I am convinced that Mount Vernon Nazarene University is well positioned to emerge as a Christian University of choice for academic excellence, Christ-like leadership and global service to others,” said Fairbanks.
Dr. Smith closed by saying, “Today is a public recognition and celebration of what we have become; a Christian University of distinction.” Following the ceremony, guests attended a picnic on the lawn in front of Hyson Campus Center.
Reprinted from the MVNU Now Magazine, Fall 2002, by Trinia Huddleston