Special to the Times-Tribune
University of the Cumberlands dedicated its newest building Tuesday, Lenora Fuson Harth Residence Hall, which is named for the generous benefactress who made the building possible. A Williamsburg native, Lenora Fuson Harth, gave the funds for the new building in memory of her daughter, Deborah Leah Harth. Completed in December 2008, Harth Hall opened its doors on January 17 to 96 young women who now call it their campus home.
The dedication ceremony began in the O. Wayne Rollins Center, with acknowledgments for Brian Early, principal architect, and David Jackson, contractor of the building. Following the recognition, the Vintage Dance Society of Lexington, accompanied by several members of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, performed for the audience of special guests, faculty, staff and students. The group demonstrated a variety of dances, including, among others, a mazurka, schottische, galloppe, polka, reel and waltz, from the mid-nineteenth century, all composed in Kentucky or by Kentuckians.
Harth’s nephew, Merrill Fuson, who is a member of the Vintage Dance Society and one of the dancers, arranged the performance in his aunt’s honor. Fuson is the son of Harth’s brother, the late Luther Fuson, who served as a trustee at the University when it was Cumberland College.
Following the performance, the special guests and a number of audience members moved across campus to the lobby of Harth Hall for the remainder of the dedication service.
The beautiful building with its arched portico sits on the hill, below Gillespie Hall, Robinson-Cook Hall, Siler Hall and Mahan Hall, facing downtown, so that it is the first building to greet campus visitors. Inside the 25,842 square-foot structure, twelve suites, each containing four two-person rooms, a bathroom and a common room, are arranged around an open, two-story lounge, with balconies on two sides above, enhancing the feeling of openness. In the lounge, prominently displayed on each side of the entrance into the main hall, are portraits of Lenora Fuson Harth and Deborah Leah Harth.
In January, when Harth Hall’s first residents moved in, they were in awe of all the new building’s features: the convenient laundry room, study rooms, computer room, vending room and the elevator, which makes Harth Hall accessible to students with disabilities. The young women opened each door with excited anticipation, and they were not alone in their enthusiasm. Bess Anderson, the hall’s head resident shared their excitement, saying, “It’s just awesome—well-planned, larger rooms, and the office could not have been better planned.”
During the dedication program, three of those new residents, Student Government Association (SGA) President Brittney House, a senior; Marissa Lobacz, a junior; and Candice Mack, a junior, thanked Harth for the opportunity to live and learn in such a wonderful environment. Dr. Jim Taylor, Cumberlands’ president expressed the gratitude of the University. Mayor Roddy Harrison presented a Key to the City of Williamsburg to Harth’s representative, George Martin, a nephew, who accepted on her behalf. The Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Jeff Smoak provided a stirring rendition of “On Holy Ground.”
The ceremony concluded as the audience, led by Linda Carter, dean of Student Life, read a litany of dedication to dedicate Lenora Fuson Harth Hall to “…God’s Glory…God’s service [and]…as a place where God may work through the years to create Christian women to lead and serve in His name.” Following the program, guests had the opportunity to tour one of the suites in the new residence hall and meet the young women who live there.
Although health concerns kept Harth, who lives in California, from attending the ceremony, relatives and friends represented her, and she will receive a videotaped account of the event. Among the guests were Harth’s brother, Denton Fuson and his wife Ruth Fuson, as well as several nieces and nephews and other family members. Ruth Fuson said that her sister-in-law would be pleased and think the residence hall beautiful. She said of the building, “It’s wonderful! It’s something that truly came from her [Harth’s] heart. She wanted to do it for years, and it’s finally materialized.”