“Have you ever been somewhere where you thought, ‘Oh, I wish I had my camera’?” General Counsel Rick Eisenstaedt said, opening the Feb. 4 Board of Trustees meeting with an anecdote.
“This building used to be named for a man I didn’t know,” Eisenstaedt said of the Harold C. Howard Center, where the meeting was held.
For more than a day, the letters were mounted incorrectly on the outside of the building. It read: “Howard C. Harold Center,” with former provost Harold Howard’s, first and last names reversed, Eisenstaedt said as the board members, administrators and guests seated before him chuckled.
“There is no place I’d rather be–or anything I’d rather do–than make remarks about Harold Howard,” Eisenstaedt said, motioning to the study area surrounding him that was transformed into a pleasing arrangement of red-clothed tables set with plates, goblets and fresh cut flowers.
Hinting at the main focus of the evening’s gathering, he said, “We really needed to have a portrait of our friend.”
An artist named Ellen Cooper painted Howard’s portrait, which was unveiled for the members of the Board, administrators and Howard’s daughter Carol Jackson and her husband, Jim.
A murmur of appreciation arose when the sheet was removed from the portrait, which will be displayed by the main entrance of the library.
Carol Jackson shared this moment with the audience, also seeing the portrait for the first time.
“The unveiling was really amazing,” said Carol Jackson, who graduated from Eastern in 1995. “It really captures the essence of his spirit. They asked me to provide a photo of him. It was his favorite picture.”
The photo was taken in Howard’s office when he served as provost at Eastern.
Howard first came to Eastern in 1965, and over the years he served as vice president, academic dean, provost and senior vice president before passing away in 2003.
Eisenstaedt described the well-respected and loved Howard using a list of words, including “Christian, educator, pastor … writer, benefactor, friend.”
Students are likely unfamiliar with HHC’s namesake and, like senior Chris Myers, have only read the plaque about him located on the first floor of the building.
Myers and three other athletes were invited to attend the event and to address the Board about their experiences at Eastern.
“I thought it was a special night,” Myers said.
“Special people, too,” said sophomore Maria Horning, who was the first athlete to speak during the “By the Numbers” presentation of Eastern athletics, followed by junior Katie Ruth, sophomore Andre Butler and Myers.
After dessert was served and the final athlete stepped up to the microphone, the evening concluded and several board members took the opportunity to approach the students.
“It’s cool to see they’re interested in us as student athletes,” Ruth said.
Butler agreed with Ruth: “It was just excellent–a good opportunity to meet a few board members,” he said.