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Silas House speaks at Center for Appalachian Studies ribbon cutting event

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Aug 27, 2021

Author Silas House reads excerpts from his book, “Southernmost,” at the ribbon cutting event on Monday evening. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Scarborough Library’s Reading Room was filled with Shepherd University faculty members and students, as well as community members, for the ribbon cutting event celebrating the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities’ relocation to room 209 in the library.

Following the ribbon cutting at the beginning of the ceremony, SU President Mary J.C. Hendrix and Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities Director Sylvia Shurbutt spoke about the center’s relocation and future.

“What a really terrific center this is going to be! The new space will put us squarely in the center of the campus, near the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education collections and our own Appalachian studies collections in the Scarborough Library,” Shurbutt said, mentioning the center’s success is partly due to community support, including Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church’s Social Justice Committee. “I would like to say ‘thank you’ to the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church for partnering with us on this! There are so many things we wouldn’t have been able to do without our community partners.”

Hendrix noted that the center would have never been born, much less grown to fruition, without the decades of work Shurbutt has dedicated to it.

“Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt has devoted the past 20 years to bringing this center to life,” Hendrix said, mentioning the center has brought over a half-a-million dollars in grant funding to the university. “This is an exciting time for all of us! A time to celebrate all the hard work of those of us who have worked here.”

Shepherd University’s Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities Director Sylvia Shurbutt speaks at the ribbon cutting in the Scarborough Library’s Reading Room on Monday night. Tabitha Johnston

The center provides a variety of educational opportunities for Appalachian studies, informing master’s degree candidates, bachelor’s degree candidates, graduate studies certificate candidates and NEH Summer Institute teachers about Appalachian history, culture, literature and conservation concerns. Alongside this educational focus, the center holds the annual West Virginia Fiction Competition and Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Project.

“We have such an exciting year planned for the Appalachian Studies and Communities! I think probably the most important thing that we do here is tell Appalachia’s story,” Shurbutt said, mentioning the night’s featured reader, Appalachian author and activist Silas House, could attest to that fact.

To close out the evening, House spoke a few words in honor of the event, before reading excerpts from his book, “Southernmost,” and conducting a book signing. His books, as well as the new book about his work, “Silas House: Exploring an Appalachian Writer’s Work,” coauthored by Shurbutt and published by the University of Kentucky Press, were sold at the event by Four Seasons Books.

“Sylvia’s one of my favorite people, and now that she’s put together a book with me in it, she’s even more so!” House said, with a smile. “I’m thankful for everything she’s done for Appalachia and literature.”

To learn more about the Center for Appalachian Studies and Communities, visit https://www.shepherd.edu/appalachian.

Author Silas House, front right, signs books at the end of the ribbon cutting event on Monday evening. Tabitha Johnston