It’s been hard to think of anything good coming from the looming departure of Dr. Stuart Gulley as LaGrange College president. Gulley has been a singularly spectacular leader, a huge asset to college and community alike.
We still hate to see him go, but this week’s announcement that a much-needed pedestrian bridge over Vernon Street will be named for Gulley and his wife, Kathleen, is good news and not just because it’s an appropriate honor.
With its eye-catching clocktower and graceful span, the bridge will be more than a practical improvement and safety enhancement. It will add beauty and style to that area of the campus - and the western gateway to town. Thousands of cars will pass under the Gulley bridge every day, ensuring it will become an instant “landmark and enhance the positive association of college and community.
Naming the bridge for the Gulleys has its own fitting symbolism. Stuart Gulley came to LC in 1996, so his presidency linked two centuries and spanned the end of one millennium and beginning of another. He was, in fact, chairman of the LaGrange’s highly successful millennium celebration, and improvements made on his watch have prepared the college for continued success in the 21st century. Our fervent hope is that Gulley’s pivotal and visionary leadership will come to be seen as a bridge linking the gifted leaders who preceded him with a talented and inspiring leader who is to come.
The Gulley bridge also will link the the oldest portion of the campus - the “Hill” - with newer facilities along Forrest Avenue and it will tie the new Lewis Library, a magnificent facility now nearing completion, with attractive and expansive parking across Vernon from campus. Thus, in bricks and mortar, it will link the names of two couples - Laura and Frank Lewis, Stuart and Kathleen Gulley - who served with distinction and were great blessings to this community
A fund-raising campaign known as “Bridge to the Future” will underwrite the bridge construction. Only then will it bear the Gulley name.
We can’t imagine that will take long.