BLUEFIELD, Va. — With a vigor driven by his convictions for Christian education and the support of his board of trustees, Dr. David W. Olive sounded a lot like an evangelical minister as he delivered his inauguration speech as the ninth president of Bluefield College.

“We are called to be servants,” Olive said to the crowd gathered in BC’s Harman Chapel for his inauguration. “We are developing servant leaders.”

The theme of the Olive’s inauguration was “Embracing our heritage ...Imagining our future.” The new BC president used images based on the community’s progressive insight in 1922 to encourage the Baptist General Association of Virginia to choose Bluefield as a location for a new college. He noted that the efforts of that group of leaders made a direct impact on the lives of students like Dr. Linwood Custalow, a Native American who gained from his experience at BC and went on to become a medical doctor in the Virginia Beach area.

He also spoke of a more recent BC graduate, Connie Saunders, chair of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce who has a successful business and also developed an organization called WISE, Women In Search of Empowerment. “Connie is making a difference,” Olive said. “We are passionate about service and meeting the needs of others.”

Olive also spoke with pride about the success of Dr. Gregory Kerr’s Biology program and of how 72 percent of the graduates of that program have gone on to earn advanced degrees during the 13 years that the major has been offered. He said that is a commendable total even for people who are mathematically challenged.

He said that students that come to BC should expect to enhance their personal faith as Christians, receive a solid commitment to remain in church, make Christian friends for a lifetime and leave the school with a lifelong love of learning. Olive pledged to tell the story about the “ experience” of attending BC and characterized the college as a “Christ-centered, student-focused, globally-minded institution.”

“I think the board of trustees made an excellent choice in bringing Dr. Olive here to serve as president,” Dr. Roy Dobyns, the 7th BC president said following the investiture service. “I met Dr. Olive several years ago at Carson-Newman College and knew he was an excellent individual. I am thankful I was able to attend the ceremony.” Dobyns and his wife, Katherine attended the event together.

The representatives of several entities extended well-wishes to Olive. Dr. Daniel E. Grabeel Sr., chairman of the BC board of trustees expressed his appreciation to the presidential search committee for finding “a talented Christian leader,” and Rev. Jack Marcom who chaired the committee called Olive: “God’s man for Bluefield,” on behalf of the search committee. “He is God’s chosen person. Wow! You better get ready.”

Dr. Charles Warren who served as interim president while the committee went through the search process, joined Olive’s wife, Kathryn in presenting the presidential medallion to Olive. Olive’s children, Kayla, 12, and Will, 7, as well as several family members attended. The new president beamed a smile as the BC Choir under the direction of Bryant Moxley performed “To Love Our God,” the inaugural anthem.

Derrick Wagoner, president of the Student Government Association called olive “a visionary,” while Donald Kidd, president of the alumni association shared the “Serenity Prayer” with the new president. State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell drew an image from the third chapter of Ecclesiastics and said: “David, I believe this is your time and season at Bluefield College.” Puckett also read a letter of welcome from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Marc Meachum, president and CEO of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce noted that “an enthusiastic group of Chamber members in the early 1920s” led the effort to bring the collect to Bluefield and Dr. John Upton, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board said that, “God has, again, done a mighty work,” in bringing Olive to BC. Dr. Charles Ambrose, president of Pfeiffer University became emotional when he talked about his longtime close relationship with Olive. “I count David as my closest friend,” he said.

Kelly Thompson, provided a scripture reading and Dr. Frank R. Campbell, executive director of Stratford House, delivered the inaugural address. “What a great day! What a great school! What a great new president!” Campbell said.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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