Cleveland Street Named in Honor of Paul Conn

Cleveland, TN—Officials with the city of Cleveland led a ceremony today to rename a portion of a street that runs through Lee University to “Paul Conn Parkway.”

The Cleveland City Council voted last month to rename the portion of Parker Street between Central and 20th Streets in the former president’s honor. Conn, who completed 34 years as president of Lee University on August 1, 2020 assumed the role of Chancellor at Lee University on the same day.

Property on both sides of the nearly mile-long stretch of the new Paul Conn Parkway is part of and owned by Lee University. When Paul Conn assumed the presidency in 1986 the only building on the eastern side of Parker Street was the Pentecostal Resource Center, a shared library between Lee and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. Buildings on the western side only existed between 8th and 15th Street. Through the years, Parker Street became the artery of new development for the campus. Parcels on and adjacent to Parker Street were acquired on both sides resulting in the construction of more than a dozen student residences, the DeVos College of Education, Humanities Building, Curtsinger Music Building, Leonard Center, McKenzie Athletic Training Center, DeVos Recreation Center, School of Religion, soccer field, softball field, and Schimmels Park. When Lee acquired the campus of the former First Baptist Church, it created more space along Parker for the School of Nursing and the School of Business. In addition, Lee has partnered with the City to improve the streetscape, with the addition of a grassy median, speed humps, and decorative lighting between Billy Graham Ave. and Central Ave.

Conn family members join in unveiling the first Paul Conn Parkway sign. From left are Brian Conn, Kelly Conn, Darlia Conn, Paul Conn, Vanessa Hammond and Jerome Hammond. Click photo to enlarge.

The idea to honor Conn in this fashion was first addressed by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland with action to be taken once Conn had left office. In 2018, Kevin Brooks, a member of the administration at the Church of God International Offices, was elected mayor to replace the retiring Mayor Rowland. When Conn announced in 2019 his intentions to make the transition to chancellor, Mayor Brooks asked the Council to investigate Rowland’s proposal. The Council passed the measure unanimously.

A resolution adopted by the City Council stated, “during (Conn’s) administration, Lee University has seen significant growth and the physical campus has been significantly enlarged and rebuilt; ….. and whereas the Cleveland City Council wishes to honor Dr. Paul Conn by renaming a portion of a current City street in his honor…”

Making the presentation at the Wednesday ceremony on behalf of the City Council was Councilman Dale Hughes. Himself a long-time resident of Cleveland with close ties to Lee University and the Church of God, Hughes cited Conn’s vision for Lee University and how he increased the campus acreage from 22 acres to 123.

“He is a visionary,” Hughes said of Conn at the unveiling. “He had the idea that this university could grow. He not only had the vision, but the will to go after the finances to see it to fruition. Lee has been a good neighbor.” Members of the Conn family then joined Paul and Darlia Conn at the intersection with 11th Street where the new sign was unveiled.

–Cameron Fisher, Church of God Communications

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