Carver Symposium

by Angela Niesz

Simpson College will honor George Washington Carver with an all-day forum event, the Carver Symposium, Sept. 30 in Lekberg Hall.

To accommodate and encourage all students and faculty to attend, four sessions will be available at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Dr. Linda O. McMurry, author of George Washington Carver: Scientist & Symbol; Peter Duncan Burchard, author of Carver: A Great Soul; and Rev. William Carver Lennard will all be speaking at the event.

The Carver Symposium differs from the Carver Lecture and Carver Award Ceremony that take place in February because the symposium is more about celebrating and understanding Carver’s legacy and achievements. The lecture and awards are more in honor of Carver himself.

Walter Lain, assistant dean for multicultural and international affairs, was present for the first Carver Symposium, which was started by three different organizations and occurred during Fall 2008 in Diamond, Mo. He encourages students to attend the Symposium to experience Carver’s legacy.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to spend time with some individuals who have dedicated a large portion of their lives to study and understand Carver,” Lain said.

This is the first time the Carver Symposium will be presented at Simpson.

Senior Jan Spreitzenbarth, an international student from Germany, heard the Carver Symposium would be part of the festivities this year.

“I’ve heard it exists, but I didn’t know that it’s the first time we’ve had the Carver Symposium this year,” Spreitzenbarth said. “Well, it makes sense. It’s the 150 anniversary of this college and George Washington Carver is a very important figure in the history of Simpson College.”

Spreitzenbarth wasn’t the only person who connected Carver to Simpson’s sesquicentennial.

“At this time, the Sesquicentennial, we reflect on all the people that make Simpson what it is, and I think that to include someone who has probably come from their furthest down, from slavery to great scientific accomplishments, students should be proud,” Lain said.

Junior Dana Lain is one student who looks up to Carver and his accomplishments.

“Carver was an individual who wanted an education more than anything in the world, and nothing was going to stop him before he got it,” Miss Lain said. “Every time I’m down on myself I think if he can do it, I can do it.”

To Spreitzenbarth, Carver is a symbol of diversity.

“Through the tradition of George Washington Carver we can truly celebrate diversity and move in a more positive direction,” Spreitzenbarth said.

Since Carver had such a widespread impact around the world, Walter Lain regards him as a noble role model for students.

“(Carver is) Simpson’s, in my opinion, greatest alumnus,” Lain said.