College Dedicates New Archives Center
LAKELAND (Feb. 20, 2009) — The Florida Southern community came together with the McKay and Chiles families and friends and leaders of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church on Friday to joyfully celebrate the opening of the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr., Archives Center.
"Today marks the culmination of a long-held dream of so many of us who are gathered here," said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of FSC. "Dr. Sarah McKay generously provided the naming gift for the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr., Archives Center, which will forever be a reminder of her generous spirit, her abiding faith, her commitment to education, and an inspiration for all who study and research in this beautiful archives centeras well as a fitting memorial to her beloved husband, Kirk."
Named for FSC Trustee Dr. Sarah D. McKay, who contributed more than $1 million toward the $3.5 million project, the 10,100-square-foot McKay Archives Center is adjacent to the Roux Library. It will house historically valuable collections that tell a comprehensive story of the spiritual, academic, cultural, social, and economic history and development of the State of Florida.
The McKay Archives Center will be home to the Ruth K. and Charles T. Thrift, Jr., Florida United Methodist Heritage Center; the Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Center for Florida History; the Florida Citrus Archives; the Citrus Hall of Fame; and the Florida Southern College Archives and Frank Lloyd Wright collection.
Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker of the Florida Annual Conference talked briefly about the history of the College and how it is tied inextricably with Methodism. For several years, the College was known as Florida Conference College before it was changed to Florida Southern College in 1935. "Since then, as we Methodists like to say, Florida Southern College has gone from glory to glory," he said.
An anonymous gift named FSC's Center for Florida History, which is moving into the Archives Center, after the late Governor Lawton M. Chiles, Jr. Gov. Chiles grew up in Lakeland near the College campus and even taught a class here when his law practice was just getting established.
His widow, Rhea Chiles, attended the dedication ceremony and talked about how much Gov. Chiles loved Lakeland and the College. She also paid tribute to her longtime friend, Sarah McKay. "Our family is deeply grateful to Sarah McKay and to all of those who have contributed to the safe haven of our shared Florida history."
Among the special guests at the ceremony was the Chiles' niece, U.S. Senator Kay Ruthven Hagan of North Carolina. Echoing her aunt's compliments, she spoke of Dr. McKay's kindness to Senator Hagan's mother during her lengthy recovery following a stroke. "his 'love your neighbor' attitude forms the core of Sarah's character, for which the Ruthven family and the city of Lakeland are truly grateful."