Dr. Ernest Abernathy ’55 is a retired board certified surgeon, published author, poet, world traveler, artist and conservationist who recalls his adventures with delight and infectious laughter. He grew up in rural Georgia and earned a chemistry degree at KWC, where he played basketball.
“It meant everything to me to attend Wesleyan,” he shares. “I learned how to interact and get along with people, and I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. KWC shaped me and made me what I am today. I’m still grateful all these years later.”
He returned to Georgia to earn his medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine and completed an internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and surgery residencies at Charity Hospital in New Orleans (Louisiana State) and Southern Pacific Hospital in San Francisco (University of California).
Vincient Whatley says his first memory of KWC was trees; big, beautiful green trees everywhere. “I was overwhelmed by their beauty,” he recalls. “The fall colors, snow on the limbs in winter and then the unbelievable flowering trees outside the Hahn Building in spring; I enjoy them in every season.”
His second memory involves people. “Everyone on campus and throughout Owensboro is so friendly,” he explains. “I had heard of Southern hospitality, and now I am experiencing it. People make eye contact, and they are very genuine.”
Vincient is a Rogers Fellow, awarded a scholarship from the The Rogers Foundation of Las Vegas. He was raised by a single parent and explains that the foundation made it possible for him to earn his degree. “When I interviewed with the foundation for the scholarship, and they told me I was a recipient, I hugged everyone in the room. I was so excited.”
Kentucky Wesleyan College will host violinist Alfred Abel and pianist Diane Earle in a duo recital on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m. in Tapscott Chapel in the Barnard-Jones Administration Building. The pair will perform music by Bach, Beethoven and Saint-Saens. Abel is visiting artist in violin, and Earle is professor emeritus of music at the College. They have performed together extensively since 2007. The recital is free and open to the public and is part of the Dr. Paul W. Hagan Chamber Music Series.
Kentucky Wesleyan College has announced a $250,000 grant from the Marilyn and William Young Charitable Foundation to name the auditorium of the Jack T. Wells ’77 Activity Center at 3300 Frederica St.
“This grant is a true blessing for our campus and local community,” said President Thomas Mitzel. “The Young Foundation has long been a supporter of Kentucky Wesleyan College and our Owensboro/Daviess County community, and we cannot thank their leadership and board enough for this investment. The Marilyn and William Young Foundation Auditorium will be a centerpiece venue at the Activity Center. We are humbled by this generous grant and look forward to welcoming numerous guests into this beautiful space.”
The newly named Marilyn and William Young Foundation Auditorium is the focal point of the Wells Activity Center. With theatre-style seating for up to 500 guests, a new state-of-the-art audiovisual system and flexibility to host in-the-round theatre or concert productions, weddings and sit-down meals, it defines the multipurpose nature of the entire Activity Center.
“When I was making my college choice I didn’t want to go to a big school like Purdue or Indiana University (I’m from Indiana), and my family had friends who had moved to Logansport from Owensboro. So my parents took me to look at KWC, Western Kentucky and Murray State. Since I was going so far from home, I chose the smallest school and never have regretted my choice!
“I give so others can have the same kind of experience that I had and that my dear friends had.
“I encourage others to give for the same reason. Also, when the college applies for grants, etc., the percentage of giving is what is important, much more so than the amount – though that helps, too! But if you have 100% giving a small amount, that can really benefit grant applications!!”
Loyal alumnus leaves legacy gift that enabled College to complete purchase of newest campus facility
Kentucky Wesleyan College has announced the naming of the Jack T. Wells ’77 Activity Center at 3300 Frederica St. The newest campus facility is named for dedicated alumnus and former Board of Trustee Chair, Jack Wells ’77, who passed away in August 2020. The Jack T. Wells Charitable Trust recently confirmed a transformational bequest to his alma mater, which also includes the establishment of the Jack T. Wells Endowed Scholarship Fund at KWC.
“We could not be more thankful to Jack Wells, whose legacy will live on at Kentucky Wesleyan College in numerous ways,” said President Thomas Mitzel. “Jack’s love of his alma mater and his passion for giving back is again exemplified in this legacy gift. We are delighted to recognize Jack with the naming of the Activity Center and thankful for the many Owensboro-area students who will benefit from his endowed scholarship. We express our sincere thanks, also, to the co-executors of the Jack T. Wells Charitable Trust, Mr. Mike Simpson and Mr. Eugene Hargis.”
Wells graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan in 1977 and served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1994-2020, including time as chair. He was inducted into the KWC Alumni Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014 and recognized as the Outstanding Alumnus in 2011. Wells was a successful businessman and entrepreneur who always invested in his hometown and his alma mater.
Katheryn (Pfisterer) Darr, Ph.D.’74 will present the annual Ellie Magnuson Lecture in Literature and Science on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m. in Rogers Hall at the Winchester Center at Kentucky Wesleyan College. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the presentation.
Dr. Darr is the Harrell F. Beck Professor of Hebrew Scripture at Boston University. She is the 1989 winner of Boston University’s prestigious Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, has authored three books, essays and articles for essay collections and major scholarly journals, respectively, and educational materials for the United Methodist Publishing House. To date, her writings have focused especially on the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. Her current research/writing project is a study of proverbs appearing in ancient Israel’s prophetic corpus.
She earned a B.A. from Kentucky Wesleyan College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.
College ranked as 2022 Best Regional College in the South and Top Performer in Social Mobility
Kentucky Wesleyan College has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Regional Colleges in the South for 2022, the highest ranking among regional colleges in Kentucky at #21 in the South. The College was also honored as one of the Top Performers on Social Mobility for 2022, again the highest ranking among regional colleges in Kentucky, at #30 in the South.
“We are honored to be so highly regarded by the prestigious U.S. News & World Report,” said President Dr. Thomas Mitzel. “These superior rankings are a testament to the commitment of our faculty and staff, who provide a high quality education with personal attention to each student.”
Associate Professor of Psychology Chair, Social Sciences Division
Hometown Born and raised in Laramie, Wyo., but considers San Diego to be “home.”
Education “I earned my bachelor of science in biology (emphasis zoology) at San Diego State University. My goal at the time was to be an animal trainer, so I picked up a minor in psychology, which is how I was first exposed to the field of cognition. I fell in love right away! All the topics we covered were so fascinating, but I was still determined to work with marine mammals.
“During a biology course my senior year, we read a journal article on cognition in dolphins and once I realized I could merge my two interests, that was that! I started to pursue graduate work in marine mammal behavior and cognition and ended up at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I earned both my master’s and Ph.D. in experimental psychology.”
Teaching responsibilities “My area of expertise falls under experimental psychology, so I tend to teach the courses that are more research-based rather than those that are applied (such as counseling). I have had the pleasure of teaching a number of courses in our program, including intro psych, human development, cognitive psychology, sensation and perception, learning theories, statistics, social psychology and research methods. I’ve also been able to create two new courses within our program: animal behavior, which I co-teach with a member of the zoology program, and animal cognition. I love being able to show students that psychology isn’t just about mental illness and therapy. There’s so much more to it!”
Why did you attend Kentucky Wesleyan? “I grew up in Nebo in Hopkins County, and I considered attending a large state university. But my high school basketball coach, Lyle Dunbar ’61, put me in touch with Guy Strong (KWC basketball coach), and he won me over. I have always been glad I made the decision to attend Wesleyan, which is still a big part of my life.”
Tell us about your years as a student. “Everybody knew everybody, and that was a good thing. Faculty knew students, and students knew all the faculty and other students. It was a great environment with a lot of support and fun, too.
“All of the coaches, faculty and staff were unbelievable. They wanted to help us, and they did. They gave us their time, which was the best thing they could give us. They were always patient and always available.
“Our professors taught us as individuals. They really got to know us. I particularly remember Joe (English) and Margaret (sociology) Britton, Dr. Robert Dalzell (biology) and Walter Beumel (education). There were so many outstanding faculty members that I hesitate to single them out, but they immediately come to mind.
“Our coaches wanted us to graduate. That was more important to them than winning games. They cared about winning, too, but most of all, they cared about us as students, not as athletes.