Dr. Kenneth R. Garren and his wife, Sheila, arrived on the University of Lynchburg‘s campus on July 31 for lunch with longtime executive assistant Debra Wyland. Instead, on the retiring Lynchburg president’s last day of employment after 19 years leading the institution, the Garrens got a welcome they never expected.
Several faculty and staff members, masked and socially distancing, waited across Hopwood Drive from the president’s parking spot applauding their outgoing leader, and the Garrens were led to a pair of the campus’ trademark red adirondack chairs where Nat Marshall, chair of the board of trustees, officially announced the naming of the Kenneth and Sheila Garren Victory Bell.
The bell, traditionally rung by Hornets athletic teams after they claim a championship, then rang 19 times in honor of the Garrens’ years of service to Lynchburg. The Garrens are long time Salemites and Ken was a graduate, professor and administrator at Roanoke College before taking the position in Lynchburg.
“Dr. Garren and Sheila have been incredible supporters of Lynchburg athletics over the past two decades,” Lynchburg director of athletics Jon Waters said. “It is only fitting that the Victory Bell bears their names. I cannot thank the Garrens enough for their dedication to providing a championship-level experience for our campus and our student-athletes.”
Dr. Garren presided over some of the most successful years in Lynchburg’s 117-year history, including unprecedented fundraising results, the development of the University’s College of Health Sciences, and facilities upgrades all around the 264-acre campus.
His tenure also included new heights for the Lynchburg athletic department. The Hornets laid claim to 74 Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles in the 19 years of his leadership, and the women’s soccer team won the department’s first-ever team NCAA Division III title in 2014. He oversaw the renovation of Shellenberger Field and the Dr. Jack M. Toms Track, home to the field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, and track & field programs in 2009, and upgrades to Turner Gymnasium, baseball’s Fox Field, softball’s Moon Field, and the Lynchburg Tennis Courts.
The University of Lynchburg’s new president, Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, officially assumed her post on August 1.