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WKU groundbreaking for Mary McChesney Kindell Pavilion honors dedicated ‘family of Hilltoppers’

A groundbreaking for the Mary McChesney Kindell Pavilion at Western Kentucky University’s McChesney Field Campus was held on Oct. 24.

The 140-acre site along the Green River in northern Warren County was gifted to WKU in 2009 from the children of longtime educator Hardin Field McChesney Sr. to honor their father, his love for education and his dedication to WKU.

Hardin Field McChesney Sr., a native of Trinidad, Colo., moved to Bowling Green in 1927 to teach foreign languages at Ogden College. After Ogden merged with Western Kentucky State Teachers College, McChesney Sr. taught at the University from 1928 until his retirement in 1959.

McChesney Sr. had eight children, five with his first wife and three with his second wife, six of whom graduated from WKU. Field McChesney Jr. (’46) of Bowling Green, noted that from his father’s faculty appointment in 1927 until 1987, there was a McChesney on the Hill without interruption.

“Hardin Field McChesney taught generations of Hilltoppers, but he also raised a family of Hilltoppers,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni. “I can’t think of a better way to honor that legacy than to have the Mary McChesney Kindell Pavilion and the McChesney Field Campus impact future generations of students and families.”

The Mary McChesney Kindell Pavilion is named in honor of the eldest child of Hardin Field McChesney Sr. Kindell grew up on the Hill when Dr. Henry Hardin Cherry was WKU’s first president and she often recalled his passion for wanting to provide education for every child in Kentucky.

“Mary was the first of our family to graduate from Western, and, 75 years after the fact, she enthusiastically championed the transaction that made this land part of WKU,” shared Field McChesney Jr. in remarks that were read at the event. “I am confident what we start here today will honor and enhance this beautiful setting and the wonderful place we call Western.”

Kindell, who graduated from WKU in 1934, died in 2018 at the age of 103. She retired from Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio, after a long career teaching English, Latin, music and journalism in Kentucky and Ohio.

At the event, Maria McChesney Flynn (’74) of Mayfield, and Susan McChesney Jensen (’89) of Ocala, Fla., the two youngest children of McChesney Sr., shared their memories of time spent on the McChesney land as children and young adults.

“The potential for interdisciplinary work among the different colleges is exciting,” said Dr. Tania Basta, Dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “The McChesney Field Campus and the Mary McChesney Kindell Pavilion will provide opportunities for our students, faculty, and community to engage in experiential and applied outdoor learning.”

The McChesney Field Campus features 3.5 miles of hiking trails, two primitive campsites, a canoe storage facility, a spring, two caves and multiple cultural sites including a cemetery and stone walls. Several WKU departments and programs have utilized the McChesney Field Campus since 2009 for outdoor education and training, but a permanent facility will create new opportunities for engagement and use.

“Our students reap the benefits of the applied learning opportunities that come with the McChesney Field Campus,” said Dr. Ron Ramsing, Director of the School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport. “The pavilion will allow us to enhance our programming to serve larger and more diverse user groups for year-round use.

“In addition to the classes that use the campus, we look forward to hosting research symposia showcasing the work by our students and faculty, as well as offering educational workshops and other events that will engage a wide variety of stakeholders.”

The facility will feature a multipurpose space, an indoor classroom with an integrated laboratory, restrooms and storage spaces.

From Western Kentucky University

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