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Barton College’s new multipurpose synthetic turf field bears the name of a prominent Wilson company whose family has been instrumental in the college’s growth for decades.
The facility was named Electric Supply Co. Field after one of the largest suppliers of electrical equipment. The company made a $1 million lead gift to Barton, securing the naming rights to the field, officials announced Wednesday.
“It’s fitting that a lead gift for this facility comes from the Kennedy family — a family with which the college has enjoyed a longstanding relationship, a family that has chosen to embrace important moments in Barton’s life with a commitment to developing facilities and programs, all which have resulted as game changers for campus and community,” said Barton College President Douglas Searcy. “The synthetic turf field is no exception.”
Searcy said it’s an honor to have the name Electric Supply Co. Field.
“We believe it represents a parallel to the campus and community,” Searcy said.
The family-owned company was established by the late K.D. Kennedy more than six decades ago in Wilson and later expanded into seven locations across the state under the leadership of Kennedy’s son, K.D. Kennedy Jr.
The Kennedys have been longtime Barton supporters, including three generations of leadership on the college’s board of trustees.
The name not only represents the company’s ties to Wilson but also signifies the relationship the Kennedys have had with the college for decades.
The field is used by the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams and will house Barton’s future football program. That program will have its inaugural season in 2020, with five home dates already set among the 11 games. The soccer teams have also used the facility.
PAVING THE WAY
Searcy said the Kennedy family has been a driving force in programs and development for years and family members have been there at meaningful moments and times in Barton’s history.
“Through significant transitions and moments where a special project is happening, they have wanted to be a part of that and to take that lead to demonstrate the strength and support of the college,” he said. “It’s really encouraging for me to have a partner and a friend like K.D. and his family that love the college as much as we do and want to help it grow and be successful.”
Searcy said the $1 million gift will pave the way for additional gifts from other donors for continuing opportunities with the proposed stadium, which solidifies the facility’s use for the campus and community.
Completing the first phase of construction will be the addition of a parking lot adjacent to green space and a plaza-scape surrounding the field, he said. The second phase will include naming opportunities with the construction of the stadium, spectator stands, press box, concession and restrooms.
CENTER OF CAMPUS AND GROWTH
Searcy said the field was placed in the middle of campus for a specific purpose.
“We purposefully chose this location to increase the vitality and energy that takes place within the campus core,” he said.
Officials said it brings a synergy between the campus and community.
Last fall, the college had its largest student enrollment in 16 years. The college continues to grow its academic and student support programs as well as renovation projects.
“We are expanding our facilities and programs and increasing our ability to serve our students,” Searcy said. “It’s representative of everything we are trying to accomplish.”
KENNEDY FAMILY CONTRIBUTIONS
The late K.D. Kennedy, who founded Electric Supply Co. in Wilson more than 60 years ago, served as a longtime trustee on the college’s board of trustees and was later elected a trustee emeritus.
His son, K.D. Kennedy Jr., who is now Electric Supply’s CEO and is also a longtime Barton trustee, served five years as Board of Trustees chairman and was later elected a trustee emeritus.
As chairman for the Campaign for Barton — Enriching the Tradition — he set the tone for giving with his own $1 million, and he led that fundraising effort well beyond its original goal, officials said. His family was honored with the naming of the Kennedy Recreation and Intramural Center. Officials said he also was diligent in raising awareness and funds for the college’s $21 million Centennial Campaign.
Kennedy and his wife, Sara Lynn Kennedy, made a significant gift for the construction of the Bruce W. Riley Plaza, which honors her father and former Barton trustee Bruce W. Riley. Kennedy also endowed the Sara Lynn Kennedy Recording Studio on campus in honor of his wife, and he established the Dorothy and K.D. Kennedy Endowed Chair of Business in the Barton College School of Business, honoring his parents.
Kennedy led the college’s black-box theater campaign effort with a naming gift for the Kennedy Family Theatre. The latest gift to the college includes the establishment of the K.D. Kennedy Jr. Rare Book Room in the Willis N. Hackney Library.
K.D. Kennedy Jr.’s son, Ken Kennedy III, currently serves as a Barton trustee while working as president of Electric Supply Co.