Our lives are marked by decisions, by actions, and by grace, and today we embrace all three in a tangible, visible way at our beloved Bethany College.

The last few weeks, and well before the conversations and calls for change took hold, we recognized as a campus that the name of our Robert C. Byrd Health Center created divisiveness and pain for members of Bethany community, both past and present.

Today, we formally and officially are removing the Byrd name from our Health Center to demonstrate Bethany College’s capacity to change, to listen, and to learn.

While this action is clearly the right thing to do, we acknowledge that the Byrd name is also synonymous with a “capacity to change, a capacity to learn, a capacity to listen, a capacity to be made more perfect,” as President Barack Obama shared in Senator Byrd’s 2010 eulogy. These attributes about Senator Byrd’s legacy, however, are the same ones that lead us to remove a symbol of the past, and open our hearts and minds to equality, justice and equity.

We respect the Byrd family name, but we can no longer let it represent how we lead in today’s world. We will honor our past, but we must propel the College into a new shared future. And so from this point forward, a new chapter begins on our campus, one informed by more diverse voices, one predicated on mutual respect and human value, and one that aims to unite through words, actions and hope.

May our action today be met with grace, and may it reaffirm the #ONEBethany spirit that has brought generations of students and alumni to our gates so that they, like Senator Byrd acknowledged in his own life, may see that change starts from within.

Tamara Rodenberg, Ph.D.