homepage logo

Byrd Center director bids farewell to Shepherdstown

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Feb 5, 2021

From left, Ray Smock presents a resolution of the Congressional Education Foundation to Jay Wyatt in recognition of his leadership at the Robert C. Byrd Center. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Jay Wyatt walked through the doors of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education for the last time as its director on Friday.

After two-and-a-half years at the helm, Wyatt decided to move onto a new position, as the assistant director of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, D.C.

“Leaving the Byrd Center wasn’t specifically on my radar or something that I planned,” Wyatt said, indicating he applied for the job on a whim. “In the end, I think, moving to the Center for Legislative Archives allows me to take everything I’ve learned at the Byrd Center and apply it on a larger scale. I’ll be serving with the National Archives and Records Administration’s Center for Legislative Archives, which preserves and makes available to researchers the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate going all the way back to the first Congress in 1789.”

Wyatt has been an integral part of the Byrd Center since he took his first position there, as the Director of Programs and Research in July 2013. Then, almost five years later, when the center’s inaugural director, Ray Smock, chose to retire, he stepped up as the center’s new director. Now those tables have turned, and Smock has returned to fill the position, until a permanent director can be found by the center’s Board of Directors.

“The Byrd Center’s board of directors unanimously passed a resolution of distinguished service at its meeting on January 27, citing Dr. Wyatt’s many contributions to civic education and public outreach through the center’s programs and research,” While we are sorry to lose the outstanding service of Jay Wyatt at the Byrd Center, the Board is thrilled with the national recognition of his unique talents,” said Byrd Center Board Chairman Joe Stewart. “We extend our heartiest congratulations to Jay.”

While Wyatt looks forward to this new step in his career, he said he will always fondly remember his time at the Byrd Center.

“I’ll miss the sense of community and the lively and spirited conversations that seemed to break out multiple times a day at the center,” Wyatt said. “Of course, COVID has dampened this a bit, but prior to the pandemic we sponsored and hosted so many events that there was always something going on at the center, always someone interesting in the building giving a talk or teaching a class, always a fun (and sometimes heated) conversation taking place. Participating actively in the intellectual life of campus and the community was an incredible privilege and absolutely something I will miss.

“I’ll also miss getting the opportunity to work with Shepherd’s amazing students,” Wyatt said. “Shepherd’s history department graciously gave me the opportunity to teach courses on American history, and I worked with several students on their capstone projects. The Byrd Center also employs several student interns each summer. I’ve enjoyed teaching and learning from my students and interns, and it has been gratifying to see many go on to graduate school and jobs.”