Union faculty, staff and students honored former Union president Hyran E. Barefoot at a celebration Monday in Barefoots Joe. The celebration marked the 20th anniversary of the naming of the Barefoot Student Union Building in Barefoot’s honor.
Barefoot served as president of Union from 1986 to 1996. Catherine Kwasigroh, vice president for institutional advancement, was a student at Union during that time. She said it was appropriate that the Student Union Building be named for Barefoot because of the love he had for students.
“Dr. Barefoot knew all the students in the senior class,” she said. “That was the type of president that he was. He wanted to know the students and be invested in their lives.”
Joy Moore, director of Barefoots Joe, said Barefoot’s name was also an obvious choice when naming the coffee shop. Barefoots Joe was built in 2008 after a tornado damaged much of Union’s campus.
“We were building something for the future of Union, but we wanted to remember the past and the people who made it possible,” Moore said. “Dr. Barefoot’s name points to that.”
Barefoot said he remembers vividly when the Student Union Building became a reality. He said in the early 1990s, the campus had about 2,400 students when it was designed for only 1,200.
“Some of the structures that we made at that time were not total necessities, but this building simply had to be built if we continued activity,” Barefoot said.
He said as the building was built, he was anxious to have someone give an outstanding gift in order for the building to be named in their honor.
“We suggested $2 million,” Barefoot said. “No takers. We threw out the idea of $1 million. No takers. And we simply moved on until finally I got my name put on it for $40. It’s the best bargain I ever made.”
The building was named in honor of Barefoot upon his retirement in 1996.
Barefoot said he and his wife, Joyce, were thrilled to spend time on Union’s campus Monday and celebrate what God has done through the university.
“We are very grateful for the privilege to be back here and to remember those beginning times,” he said.
Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody