Hannah King · September 21, 2011
At a devotional given by Dr. Richard G. Whitehead, acting president of Southern Virginia University, last week, his wife, Launa, joined him at the podium to announce the couple’s donation to the university of a new electronic carillon bell system.
The Whiteheads donated the bell system last month. Since then, the bells have been used regularly—chiming daily at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., and playing hymns each Friday before the weekly forum or devotional. In addition to the regular times, the bells also will be used to commemorate holidays and special events.
“Both my husband and I attended colleges and universities that had carillon bells and those bells became an important and nostalgic thread throughout the fabric of our educational memories,” said Launa Whitehead, assistant professor of music at Southern Virginia. “It is our hope and desire that these bells will add that same reflective and poignant element to each student’s collage of Southern Virginia memories.”
Additionally, the electronic carillon bells will serve as an emergency alert system.
“The bells can serve to warn the entire campus of impending danger or crisis,” said Professor Whitehead. “We hope they will not have to be used for such, but if needed, the system is in place.”
The Whiteheads have long wished to make carillon bells a reality at Southern Virginia.
“As one student said, ‘the bells add character to the campus,’ and we agree,” said President Whitehead. “This has long been our dream and we’re glad to be able to share it with you.”
Students already appreciate the atmosphere the bells add to the campus environment.
“The bells are a nice touch and they have a calming influence,” said Jonathan Bowden, a family and child development major from South Jordan, Utah. “When they play the hymns before forum, they get me in the right mindset. Bells have a holy quality and they seem to facilitate a more academic ambiance on campus.”