Alumni House Dedication Will Honor Half-a-Century of College Service
September 6, 2000
by Alexandra Obregon
In 1946, an eager local high school student dropped by Davidson College to ask Alumni Secretary John L. Payne for a summer job. The young woman was promptly hired, and she soon began work addressing alumni correspondence in the basement of Chambers Building. Her name was Nancy Blackwell, and she has worked on behalf of college alumni continuously for 54 years since that day!
On Saturday, September 23, Davidson will pay tribute to "Mrs. B's" longstanding commitment to the college and the Alumni Relations Office by dedicating the newly renovated alumni house on Main Street in her name.
The ceremony will highlight the college's annual Homecoming Weekend. It will include testimonials by alumni who have worked closely with Blackwell, and presentation of a scrapbook containing mementos representing what she has shared with alumni and the college. Presidents Emereti Samuel Spencer and John Kuykendall will be on hand to unveil a portrait of Blackwell, which will hang in permanent display in the Nancy Overcash Blackwell Alumni House.
Born and raised in Davidson, Blackwell became a full-time member of the Alumni Office staff as soon as she graduated from Davidson High School in 1947. Since then, she has continued to work diligently through the tenures of nine alumni directors and five college presidents.
Because the alumni office is now located away from the main academic thoroughfare of Chambers Building, fewer students than in the past meet her before receiving their diplomas. Once they have graduated, however, she becomes their main point of contact with the college. As Associate Director of Alumni Relations, Blackwell is the keeper of the "Class Notes" that appear in the "Davidson Journal" alumni magazine. She's also the friendly face that greets alumni time and again as they return for Homecoming and Alumni Weekend. Before too long, she can identify most of them by name and year of graduation.
"Obviously, hers is the rightful name for the alumni house," said former Alumni Director Brian Tarr. "No one has contributed more to the alumni effort over the years than Nancy Blackwell."
Tarr initiated the renovation and dedication effort in 1996, when Blackwell celebrated her 50th anniversary with the college. The ceremony on September 23 will bring to a close a four-year effort to honor her hard work, loyalty, and kindness.
The college has also established an endowment in Blackwell's name for maintenance and future renovations to the house. Funds were contributed by alumni eager to honor their longtime friend. Tarr noted, "They were inspired by their affection for Nancy and the fact that Davidson would honor a long time employee."
For her part, Blackwell has taken all the sudden attention in stride. She continues to do her work with grace, humility, and no plans of retiring anytime soon.
"I'm pleased and honored, but I just do my work like everyone else does," she said. "I enjoy coming to work every day. I enjoy people and I'm in the perfect place to do it."