Affable. Humble. Widely liked. Great listener. There is no shortage of compliments that could describe our longest-serving president of 10 years here at Eastern, Dr. David Black.
The festivities begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 in the rec gym, as the university celebrates his 10-year anniversary. A small reception will be held from until 7:30 p.m. Following the reception, a program of speakers and presenters will take place in the main gym.
Who would not desire to celebrate the man who, according to Valerie Black, his wife of 38 years, does not even desire to receive the accolades he deserves? In 10 years he has taken many entrepreneurial, educational and financial initiatives that have transformed the entire university. In fact, it is through Black’s service as President that Eastern has transformed from a college to a university.
Dr. Stephen Gatlin, associate professor of history, was a childhood schoolmate of Black’s. In 1967, the two graduated together from Arnold High School in Cleveland, Tenn.
“I wasn’t terribly aware of David’s educational proclivities as a youth,” Gatlin said. “But I was terribly aware of his leadership abilities.”
Though they were never in the same crowd because Gatlin rode motorcycles and Black did not, he watched Black from afar.
“[Black was] handsome and well-trimmed,” he said. In Gatlin’s experience, Black has always been the kind of person who was well-liked because of the way he treats people. Despite the fact that busy schedules keep them from talking as much as he might like, Gatlin said, “Listening to David talk is a joy for me.”
Gatlin is far from the only one who feels honored and refreshed by conversations with Black. Junior Sasha Montes said, “[Black is] approachable but his presence demands respect.”
Black’s desire to speak with people and interact on a personal level is very important to him, according to his wife. “He has the ability to listen and when he’s talking to you, he’s only talking to you,” Valerie Black said. “This is why his latest decision was not an easy one for him but a necessary one.”
As a part of his initiative for this upcoming year, Black made the decision to go on the road in order to get in contact with major donors for a new scholarship fund for Eastern students as well as to provide more funding for the university. However, the outings for fund-raising are very important to Black for the very same interactive purposes.
According to Valerie Black, “[My husband] develops these relationships not just to make the money, but to share Eastern’s story and to make sure [the donors] are a fit.” She said that her husband talks a lot about the cost of education for students and families. One of his biggest goals is to alleviate as much stress and expense from as many students as possible.
Webster Fitzgerald, executive director of human resources, is one of the many people associated with planning Black’s anniversary celebration. According to him, bracelets and coffee mugs are being sold during lunch outside of the Dining , and donations are being collected in honor of Black’s anniversary to go to toward his scholarship fund. Fitzgerald said that the scholarship was created partly because Black did not want anything done for himself for the anniversary.
Gatlin truly believes that Black has been successful at raising money and spending the money in socially responsible directions. All of the additions and improvements Black has made in these past 10 years are proof of this.
From his passion for the city in developing two inner-city branches of Eastern to the construction of over five facilities, Black has surely made his mark on Eastern. The scholarship fund is just one more way he will continue to serve the university well.
Black’s 10th anniversary celebration is acting as the inaugural event for the David R. Black Scholarship Fund. “He wants to be remembered for giving back to the community of students and future students,” Fitzgerald said.
The administration expects a huge turn-out for the occasion. To RSVP for Black’s anniversary celebration or to make a donation, go to www.drblack10.makeswebsites.com.