By Bill Robinson
Eastern Kentucky University will make a $15,000 donation to become the first Signature Sponsor to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
New EKU President Michael Benson announced the commitment during a reception the chamber hosted in his honor Monday evening at the EKU Center for the Arts.
The university will do “whatever it takes,” Benson said, to have the Kentucky All A Classic basketball tournament return to EKU’s Alumni Coliseum.
The tournament took place at Eastern for many years through 2011 when it moved to Frankfort.
The chamber event allowed area residents to meet Benson and other new community leaders. It also was a fundraiser for the chamber. About 65 paid $25 each to attend.
In addition to Benson, others introduced were: Joel Aalberts, director of the EKU Center for the Arts; Col. Lee Hudson, Blue Grass Army Depot commander; Elmer Thomas, Madison County School superintendent; Tonita Goodwin, Richmond Industrial Development Corp. executive director; and Ann Laurence, Richmond Register publisher.
Only Benson spoke, however,
Under his leadership, Eastern will take an active roll in the community, the president said. The financial commitment to the chamber and the effort to return the All A Classic to Richmond are just early examples of that.
“If the university does well, then the community does well,” Benson said.
The university also benefits when the community prospers, he added, pledging to “keep us working together.”
Benson said he asked David McFadden, the chamber president, what the organization needs. When he said it was looking for 10 to 15 “Signature Sponsors” who would donate $15,000 or more, the EKU president said the university would be the first to step up.
The term “town and gown” originated in Oxford, England, where he earn his doctorate in history, Benson said. In the Middle Ages, students wore academic gowns indicating their status as students. At times the difference between town and gown in college communities has developed into misunderstanding and conflict, he said. But as EKU president, Benson said he wants to bridge the chasm than can separate a campus from its host community.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 624-6690.