LC in History: Last Class

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr., LC History Professor~

One hundred years ago the members of the Class of 1918 were preparing for graduation and the challenges facing the United States during the second year of America’s involvement in the Great War.  Their diplomas would be the last ones to bear the name Virginia Christian College.

Today the members of the Class of 2018 are preparing for graduation and the challenges facing our nation in the complex world in which we live today.  Their diplomas will be the last to bear the name Lynchburg College.

Last Saturday morning, while the members of the Westover Society were celebrating the unveiling of the plaque celebrating the placement of Hopwood Hall on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, I could not help but think of the generations of men and women who had studied there since 1909.  For a decade it was the academic and administrative heart of Virginia Christian College, and then everything changed. For the next ninety-nine years, Hopwood Hall would be the oldest academic building at Lynchburg College. On July 1, everything will change again as we enter the era of the University of Lynchburg. As we mark the four hundred and second anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, it is hard to ignore Juliet’s plea for tolerance: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  

It is always a pleasure during Westover Weekend to see old friends and former students who are pausing to mark an important moment in their lives while renewing old relationships.  The Class of 1963 was a year behind mine, and I taught many of the members of the class of 1968. It is difficult to realize that they are in their seventies, retired and receiving Social Security each month. To some, the years have been kind, but to others, time has wrought significant changes.  However, when we part, the years melt and I remember them as they were; they are still young—in their twenties. A constant topic this weekend were the changes that will begin in July. Some are ambivalent, others are worried and some simply accept the inevitable.

In 1968, I had the occasion to talk with a member of the Class of 1918 who had returned to campus for her fiftieth reunion.  She spoke of her love of Lynchburg College, and the annual gifts she had given to her Alma Mater, even in the depths of the Great Depression, but it was with a wistful smile that she admitted that her heart still belonged to Virginia Christian College. She was a member of that last class.  As the years pass, time will take care of everything, and Lynchburg College will be only a memory, another step on the long journey that began in April 1903 on the steps of a deserted resort hotel that stood on the edge of forever.