The New Dunn Hall: Wesleyan Dedicates Newest Dorm

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

This article is posted with the permission by Record Delta editor  Brian Bergstrom

“New Hall is Dunn.”

Wesleyan student and resident assistant Tim Allen received a hearty chuckle for that comment from a crowd of more than 100 people who turned out Saturday morning to help dedicate the college’s newest dorm — before known simply as New Hall — as Dunn Hall in honor of the late Tom Dunn and his wife, Carol.

Tom and Carol met at Wesleyan five decades ago, and after becoming a success in the oil and gas industry, Tom continued to give back to his alma mater, through donations, serving on the board of trustees, attending events and lending a hand whenever possible before he passed away in April at the age of 69.

“The naming of a major and magnificent building is a rare and special occasion,” college president Pamela Balch said at Saturday’s ceremony. “We are honored and grateful to Carol and all members of the Dunn family for their passion to West Virginia Wesleyan.”

The 140-bed building opened in August 2011 and features suite-style living, study halls and modern conveniences such as washers and dryers on-site.

“Carol told me she would never have met Tom if it hadn’t been for West Virginia Wesleyan,” Balch said. “And, you know, Wesleyan might still be worrying about the design for the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts if Tom had not taken me by the hand my first year to find the right design team and the right local construction company to get it done beautifully and affordably.”

The president recognized the many family members in attendance Saturday, including Carol, daughters Tracy Cunningham and Jennifer Fluke, their husbands, and several grandchildren — one of whom, granddaughter Carson Cunningham, is a freshman living in Dunn Hall.

“Thank you Carol, Tracy and Jennifer. We are forever grateful for Dunn Hall,” Balch said.

Marc Halbritter, chair of the Wesleyan board of trustees, also thanked the Dunn family for their contributions to the college.

“I can’t think of any name more deserving to be on this building than the Dunn family name,” Halbritter said. “As I think about the future of Dunn Hall, I hope those that live here will take a lesson from Tom and Carol and their family. Yes, get your degree. But more importantly, get an education. Be social. Live life to its fullest. Have fun. Care for others. Remember your roots. Work and serve to make the world a better place while you’re here.”

Carol Dunn spoke about how much the day meant to both herself and her family, noting that “Tom had many loves, and Wesleyan was certainly one of those. He believed truly in this college and the education that it gives to the students.”

“It is an honor for myself, our two daughters and their families in the naming of Dunn Hall,” she continued. “I would like to thank each one of you for being present on this very special and memorable day.”

Dennis Xander — a Wesleyan grad, friend of the Dunn family and president of the W.Va. Independent Oil and Gas Association — talked about Tom and a leadership academy established by IOGA in his honor.

“I probably wouldn’t be here if not for Tom Dunn,” Xander said, briefly choking up. “You can look around this campus and you can see that the Dunn family, Tom and Carol both, believed in education, because not only were they benefactors financially, but Tom helped a lot in the leadership as a board of trustee member and helping and guiding Pam Balch in some of the decisions she made.”

Every year, 40 high school science teachers from around the state will be recruited for the Tom Dunn Energy and Leadership Academy.

“We are going to ask each of those 40 to bring two of their best and brightest science students,” Xander said, “and they are going to come here to Wesleyan and they are going to have an intense educational experience for three days solely at the cost of the academy, where they will learn about energy and leadership opportunities. It’s such an important thing for our industry, and it’s an industry that Tom loved.”

Xander noted that not only is the academy beneficial for the students involved, but also for the college, which will have first crack at recruiting some of the top science students in the state.

“It’s a great thing for Tom Dunn, it’s a great thing for Buckhannon and our community, it’s a wonderful opportunity for Wesleyan, and it’s a good thing for the students who will benefit from learning about the oil and gas industry,” Xander said.

For more information, check out www.tomdunnacademy.com.

Dunn Hall is located on the corner of Camden Avenue and Braxton Street.