The Blount Scholars Program has lost a great friend in the recent passing of John T. Oliver Jr. Mr. Oliver has been a staunch supporter of the Program and an inspiration to its students.
John Oliver was born on April 19th, 1929 in Birmingham Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama with his bachelor’s and law degrees. He subsequently served his country in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp before settling in Jasper, Alabama to embark upon a successful career in banking. In Jasper, Mr. Oliver served on countless boards and in numerous leadership roles. Just a few of those roles include:
- University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees (1971-1999)
- Trustee for Walker College (Now Bevill State Community College, Jasper Campus)
- Member of Board of the Alabama Department of Archives and History
- Board Member of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf & Blind
In all that he undertook, he was known for his optimism and winning sense of humor. To learn more about the life of John Oliver you can read his obituary.
Mr. Oliver’s impact upon our program is most immediately visible in the Blount Program’s main administrative building. Originally Barnard Hall, the building was renovated with funds generously provided by Mr. Oliver and the Bankhead Foundation. In honor of his strong support, the building was renamed Oliver-Barnard Hall in 2001. It now serves as the center of our administrative operations, a space for upper class seminars, and a gathering place in which Blount students meet to study and socialize. As of Fall 2022, OB Hall is being renovated again to better serve the needs of Blountees. The project is set to be completed by Fall 2023.
Mr. Oliver’s impact on our students can be seen beyond the UA campus as well. One of the clearest examples of this is the New College Walker Area Community Foundation Internship. When he settled in Jasper, Mr. Oliver become involved with multiple community growth efforts which culminated in the creation of the Walker Area Community Foundation and the Bankhead House and Heritage Center.
These initiatives have provided meaningful internship opportunities for Blount students in recent years. In Walker County, students have the ability to live in Jasper as Jean O’Connor-Synder Interns and work with the Walker Area Community Foundation. This internship is funded by the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.
The Blount Scholars Program is proud of its students’ civic engagement in local communities like Jasper, and this engagement would not have been possible without the work of John Oliver. Blount students have historically been well-represented in the Walker County internship, and that involvement continues to this day.