In recognition of 90 years as a school, Murray State faculty hosted “Rainey T. Wells, Founder of Murray State University as depicted by Robert Valentine.”
Held in Wrather Museum at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 17, the event educated attendees about how Murray State was born as recounted by the man who made it possible, Rainey T. Wells.
Before Robert Valentine, senior business lecturer, dressed and performed as the founder Rainey T. Wells, he was introduced by Mark Welch, director of community relations.
Welch gave a brief summary of the University’s history, highlighting its beginning on September 21, 1922, the construction of its first building in 1924, now called Wrather Museum, and several other landmark events.
Approximately 25 people, consisting of faculty, staff and students, attended the event in Wrather Museum.
The depiction of Wells was not only meant to remind listeners of the University’s founder, but to educate attendees on the kind of person he was as well. In his presentation, Valentine depicted Wells as an encouraging, spiritual leader whose primary concern were the students and professors of the future.
Although his speech was not at all meant to be a sermon, in order to properly portray Wells, it was necessary to highlight the fact that he was a very spiritual person who, during his time, was able to incorporate quotes from the Bible into his speeches. One quote in particular was taken from the book of Mark, chapter 8 verse 36: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” With this excerpt, Valentine was able to epitomize Wells’ philosophy and encourage students the way he would have.
After the presentation Valentine said how it felt to be asked to portray such a man.
“Rainey T. Wells had never been depicted before by an actor that I know of, so it has been a challenge but it has also been very gratifying,” Valentine said. “And I, quite frankly, have been astonished to find out how much pointed and relevant prose he created through his speeches. There is a rich body of material that tells us what he thought and what he believed and it is very interesting to see how ferociously dedicated to education he was.”
Written by Alex Berg, Staff writer.