On Solid Rock

About the Book

On Solid RockAt a time when we need a new generation of change agents to transform our country and our world, we can look back at what it took in the 1960s to transform how young people were prepared to be noble citizens, community leaders, and moral, thoughtful, caring men and women.

In a book, On Solid Rock: The Founding Vision of Florida Presbyterian / Eckerd College (Eckerd College, 2008), Stephanie Kadel Taras, Ph.D., a 1989 graduate of Eckerd College and granddaughter of the founding president, William H. Kadel, recounts the history of one liberal arts college that demonstrates why our society needs liberal arts colleges and the graduates they produce. The Burning Bush, a print by artist Robert O. Hodgell, one of the College's first Visual Arts faculty, graces the book's front cover.

"On Solid Rock is the story of how a few men fought for a dream of a college like no other, and in the process fought for justice," says Dr. Kadel Taras. "It is a story of a small college in the 1960s and 1970s that reveals the story of our nation at that time."

Anchored in the College's founding and its first ten years, On Solid Rock is a history of a southern college born in the civil rights movement that became a leader in integrating higher education and college sports. It explains why Eckerd College is located in the City of St. Petersburg and how the College and the City have impacted each other. It is a story that tells us courage - it takes more than mission and vision - to create a lasting liberal arts college and curriculum.

Dr. Donald R. Eastman III, President of Eckerd College, commissioned On Solid Rock. He says, "Stephanie has given life to the inimitable spirit of the College in its early days - a spirit that continues to inform and inspire everyone who is a part of Eckerd College."

In the process of researching the College's history, Dr. Kadel Taras interviewed founding faculty and surviving family members, former and current faculty, staff, and administrators, and students from the founding class and the College's early years: Louise Bevan, Clark Bouwman, Jim Carlson, Jim Crane, Sarah Dean, Carolyn Horton Hall '64, James R. Harley, Keith Irwin, Katharine Meacham Conover, Peter Meinke, Sterling Watson '69, Tom West, William C. Wilbur, and Grover Wrenn '64; and others, who have passed, Marjorie Carter, Kenneth Keeton, John Satterfield and Billy O. Wireman. Their names are recognizable to the thousands of alumni and students who recall Florida Presbyterian / Eckerd College as a place of transformation.

From production to publication, On Solid Rock has been a collaborative effort across the College's decades of graduates, all of whom are employed by Eckerd College. Cathy McCoy '71, Acquisition Assistant in the Technical Services area of the library, assisted Dr. Kadel Taras with accessing previously recorded interviews and archival materials. Creative Director Dawn Régan Ellenburg '86 designed the book and managed its production.

Dr. Kathryn Watson '69, Associate Dean of Faculty Development for Academic Affairs and Assistant to the President for Academic Affairs, was the driving force behind On Solid Rock becoming a reality. "My life and this book have been transformed by my mentor, Kathy Watson," says Stephanie. "Her guidance of this book from inception to completion and the joy of our collaboration have strengthened me and this story. Knowing that I thrive when loved, she has been unstinting."