New outdoor classroom honors Donald Buchanan ’83

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Alumni, Campus 03 Jul 2013

don_buchananCentre’s campus is home to a host of both modern and historic structures, the newest of which is the Donald Davies Buchanan Memorial Classroom.

The outdoor classroom is located between Young and Nevin Halls, nestled under the trees that keep it in shade most of the day. Designed by Hastings and Chivetta, the same firm that designed several of Centre’s newest buildings, the classroom is an elegant, inviting space and fitting tribute to a beloved Centre alumnus.

A native of Pleasureville, Ky., Buchanan ’83 was an outstanding student, motivated athlete and leader in fraternity life. He received many academic, athletic and leadership awards during his tenure at the College.

When Buchanan passed away two years ago, a group of his closest Centre friends approached the College about establishing a memorial scholarship fund. Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Shawn Lyons ’81 describes the outpouring of support for the project.

“The group of friends put together a committee who approached other Centre friends of Don’s,” Lyons says. “From there the project kind of took on a life of its own. The response we got to the scholarship — both from the Centre community and Don’s family and friends — was overwhelming. We quickly endowed the fund, which is given to outstanding students from rural communities in Kentucky.”

The remaining gifts were used to design and construct the outdoor classroom.

“An outdoor classroom is the perfect addition to Centre’s campus for several reasons,” says Lyons. “For one, we had an existing outdoor classroom in that location that needed some refurbishing. Secondly, many professors enjoy teaching outdoors but need a way to be able to write on a board; this classroom gives them that resource.”

Aside from the teaching needs it fulfills for Centre, the classroom is an ideal way to memorialize Buchanan’s life and achievements.

“We consulted with project supporters on what exactly the space should look like,” says Lyons. “Don lived in Nevin Hall as a first-year student and was also a member of the Beta [Theta Pi] fraternity, which was housed in Cooper House at the time. The front doors of both of these buildings look out directly into the exact space where the memorial classroom is located — a space Don would have walked through daily during his time here.

“Everyone wanted a memorial that reflected what an outstanding student Don was,” he continues. “The idea that his memorial would be a functioning classroom space was very important.”

Aside from commemorating the life and spirit of Buchanan, the outdoor classroom is a wonderful addition to Centre’s already beautiful campus. The classroom’s lighting and raised seating make it particularly versatile, allowing for year-round outdoor learning, studying and meeting.

Centre College President John Roush sees the new addition as a valuable resource for students and faculty alike.

“Outdoor classes are a wonderful part of what we do at Centre,” he says. “This generous gift to the College from the family and friends of Don Buchanan will enhance that experience, and will set, no doubt, a standard for similar spaces that might be developed in the future. Because it has lighting, it will also offer opportunities for evening meetings of campus organizations or impromptu study sessions. Our expectation is that the students will love it.”

The Donald Davies Buchanan Memorial Classroom dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 2, as part of the College’s Homecoming festivities.

By Mariel Smith