Chowan celebrates milestone

Published 12:04 pm Sunday, September 20, 2009

MURFREESBORO – A mid-day pep rally at Chowan University Thursday served not only as a spirit booster for the university’s upcoming weekend football game, but as a celebration of its having achieved a longtime goal and as a platform for the debut of its new fight song.

“Our purpose today,” said Dr. Chris White, Chowan University president from a podium on the stage of Turner Auditorium on the Chowan campus, “is to celebrate, celebrate 1,000…”

The pep rally, originally planned for Squirrel Park, was moved inside because of rainy weather.

“Chowan College, as it was known then,” Dr. White said at the rally, “closed during World War II. By any imagination, that should have been the end of the institution that was founded in 1848. But it reopened, under the grace of God, but also due to a group of people here, businesspeople in this community that worked and would not let this school die. It reopened in 1949 as a junior college, co-ed, and in those years, helped thousands of underprepared students become successful in this world. The success stories are numerous, too numerous to recount. And so many thousands left here with associate degrees and went on to earn their bachelors elsewhere…

“About 1990,” the university’s president continued, “a courageous decision was made to return this school to four-year status. During those transition years, enrollment sagged. But there was a mantra, and that mantra was, ‘A thousand students is our goal.’

“There were many hardships and disappointments along the way, but also some successes. But the dream itself never failed. It’s always been a thousand students. And today we celebrate the achievement of that dream!

“Our official enrollment is 1,080. Congratulations!”

After the resulting applause died away, President White continued, “My heartfelt thanks goes to our supporters, who never lost the faith; to our faculty and staff who have chosen to live out their professional lives in this wonderful place; and also to our students, because, students, you are Number One.

“Now that we, as an institution, have achieved a goal of longstanding, it’s time to start thinking about a new goal. We need new dreams and higher mountains to climb.

“I want to ask you a question,” Dr. White said. “When you think of the future of Chowan University, what do you see? What is it you see five years from now, 10, 15, maybe further up the road?

“If I look out there,” he continued, “even though it’s hazy, I see enrollment continue to climb, perhaps more slowly than in recent years; I see new programs in the offing; I see graduate school, perhaps even as early as next fall; I see continuing campus relations; I see improvement in academic quality and nationwide recognition of this school; I see new campus facilities, one of my dreams is for a chapel; I see funding for new and improved, larger scholarships for students; I can see the CIAA recognizing Chowan as a powerhouse; I can see Chowan living out its mission as a Christian school, where values are important and every individual is seen as a child of God with importance.

“These are some of the things I see. Like Paul, I see through a glass darkly, but I want you to see, too, and, together, we will develop a new dream, a new mantra.”

At that point, Dr. White recognized John Hinton, vice president for human resources, “who insisted that we have a fight song, even to the point of writing the words, and forcing the band to learn it.”

Hinton then came to the stage and first recognized music professor Mike Patriko, “who a week ago had never seen this and in a very short time, over the weekend, he arranged it.” Then, motioning to the band members arrayed in front of the stage, Hinton said, “He arranged it, but I’m going to tell you something: right here in front of me, because I heard them do it Wednesday afternoon, are a fine group of musicians. They put this thing together…”

Hinton then led in the singing of the new fight song. Its words are as follows:

Hail Chowan

(Lyrics: John A. Hinton)

(Tune: “Semper Paratus” by Frances Van Boskerch)

Now let’s show our Chowan Pride.

The Hawks have come to play.

The spirit soars above our team

We’ll surely win this day.

Fight, till it’s over, mighty Hawks.

Fight on for Old CU

With spirits brave and hearts on fire

Hail, Chowan, the white and blue.