Eastern University’s gymnasium was transformed into a decorative place filled with the music of a stringed quartet and the mingling of approximately 300 people in honor of the 10-year anniversary of President David R. Black. Tables were covered with pleasing desserts and fragrant coffee, and colorful fall blooms were visible on the stage. It was Friday evening, Sept. 28, and administrators, faculty, students, friends and family of Black were in attendance.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Don Gough, socializing before the formal celebration began, said, “[I admire David Black’s] passion for education and seeing young minds learn in a way that they can serve the kingdom here on earth.” Gough added that an important part of Black’s 10-year position has been his ability to “affect young people who will in turn affect other people.”
Chris Hall, provost of Eastern University and dean of the Templeton Honors College, considers Black one of his best friends. Hall said that he esteems Black for “his love for Christ and the clarity with which he sees Christ’s call to Justice and caring for the poor in the Bible.”
According to Tom Ridington, senior vice president of Eastern University, Black’s best attributes include, “His friendship, his faithfulness to our vision, and his love of our students.”
The ceremony included a variety of speakers and entertainers, including singers and dancers. Black and his family were seated in the front row, a small table with flowers and coffee situated beside the president. Reverend Louise Williams Bishop, from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and an Eastern University Trustee; Reverend Luis Cortes, Jr., President of Esperanza; and Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners and Call to Renewal, were just a few of the honored guests who spoke from the stage. Turning Point performed several songs throughout the night. An interpretive dance number called “Broken Bread,” choreographed by dance professor Saleana Pettaway, was presented, and an original song titled “Grace” was sung by Nadia Gordynskiy.
A humorous video was projected onto the front screen. Joe Modica, Chris Hall and Duffy Robins, known as the three amigos, wore sombreros and recited a poem describing Black, taking friendly jabs at him and making lighthearted jokes.
A touching part of the ceremony was when Black’s sons Chris and Justin stepped up to the stage. The men took turns reading from a letter written by their grandfather, Black’s father, who could not attend the celebration due to a family illness. Both men were affable and joked around a bit as they talked about growing up with their father. They mentioned his love of golf, his temper at basketball games and the influence he had on their lives. They did not forget to mention their mother, Valerie Black. Chris Black reminded the audience of the saying that behind every great man there is a great woman, pointing out that, “She was never behind!”
President Black was the last speaker invited up to the stage. “[My father told me] it will never be about you,” Black said, reflecting on the work he has done. “And it hasn’t.”
Black concluded the night when he said, “I’m a tad embarrassed tonight, but not too much. It’s been a lot of fun.”
A scholarship fund has been started in Black’s honor. As of Friday Sept. 28, the day of the celebration, approximately $55,000 was raised for the David R. Black Scholarship Fund, according to Webster Fitzgerald, executive director of human resources for Eastern University. This amount does not include donations made at the celebration. To make a donation, people can visit this website, https://www.alumni.eastern.edu/NETCOMMUNITY/SSLPage.aspx?pid=202&srcid=237, and indicate the David Black Scholarship Fund.