Running on the track at the Kenneth R. Gill Stadium at McDaniel College was quieter than usual on the Labor Day holiday.

Lately, a trip around the track has been accompanied by a cacophony of construction noise — ever since the work began on the new stadium on Feb. 3 — as well as the sound of college students practicing team sports on the athletic field since they returned to campus on Aug. 22.

As I tottered around the track and looked up at a skyline of several new academic buildings, added in the last decade or so, and the new entranceway on West Main Street, I pondered the Aug. 31 article in Explore Carroll that explained that McDaniel was once again named in the guide, "Colleges That Change Lives."

I was struck with the concept of "change" as a recurring theme at the college.


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McDaniel College has changed Westminster and the way we think in Carroll County ever since Fayette Buell began the college, when he first received a deed for 8 acres of "The Commons" on the hill overlooking Westminster in the distance, for $4,580, on May 1, 1866.

To add to my retrospection, on Sept. 1, I joined more than 500 folks who attended the memorial service for the late Sam Case, who died Aug. 22, at age 70. He was an admired professor at the college for nearly four decades.

As I sat in Big Baker Chapel during the service, I found myself lost in thought over the number of changes that have occurred since I first met Case in the 1960s. After the service I compared notes with Joe Smothers, a distinguished 1969 Western Maryland College graduate, on changes we've witnessed over the last number of decades.

When I first found my way on to the campus as a child in the 1950s, the college was affiliated with the Methodist Protestant Church — that continued until 1974. Then, one of the biggest changes occurred on July 1, 2003, when the college's name was officially changed to McDaniel College.

Lately, workers have been attempting to get as much of the new $8 million 1,434-seat Gill Stadium completed as possible before the first home football game on Sept. 15. The new stadium will replace the 900-seat Bair Stadium, which had overlooked what has been known since June 10, 1922, as Hoffa Field.

Not all change is easy — or to our liking. Many were disappointed when the Baltimore Ravens announced last year that they were discontinuing an almost 50-year tradition of a Baltimore football team conducting summer practice at the school.

McDaniel is indeed a college that changes lives — and along the way, we have also been changed. It is only fitting that the motto of the college is "E Tenebris in Lucem Voco."

"I call you out of darkness into light."

When he is not running on the track at McDaniel College, with a flashlight, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com