The standing-room-only crowd gathered in Birdsong Atrium, the Center’s central common area, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring remarks by benefactor Will Pannill ’77, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Peebles Harrison ’89, Elliott Professor of English Evan Davis, and College President Larry Stimpert.
The recently expanded and renovated space in Pannill Commons houses the College’s signature academic program, the Rhetoric Program, as well as the Center for Public History and Office of Undergraduate Research. The Rhetoric Program’s move to a new, innovative space symbolizes the continual evolution of the Program, which now encompasses digital rhetoric in addition to oral and written rhetoric. “No matter what field our graduates pursue—whether it be engineering, sales, finance, marketing, medicine, the law, teaching, healthcare, or public service—if they are to be successful, they need the ability to write well, to speak effectively, and increasingly, to communicate confidently in digital forms,” Davis told attendees.
Featuring rhetoric, public history, and undergraduate research in concert with each other will strengthen all three programs and launch the 40-year-old Rhetoric Program into its next 40 years, according to Davis. “If our graduates are not merely to join the public sphere but to strengthen it, they need more than the ability to speak, write, and communicate; they also need to think both historically and empirically. They need to be able to articulate how the past impinges on the present, and to be able to engage public audiences in discussions of knowledge that they have gained through rigorous research, guided by faculty who possess both caring and expertise,” he explained.