Roanoke Rising: The Campaign for Roanoke College

Great things happen at Roanoke College. Ideas. Opportunities. Experiences.

From real-world learning and a unique core curriculum, to long-lasting personal connections and a commitment to success, the opportunities are endless.

For Morris Cregger '64, chairman of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees, the Roanoke experience was life-changing.

"It provided me an excellent academic opportunity but it also gave me the confidence to go out and follow my dreams," he says. "It taught me to expect more out of life."

Today, Roanoke College is poised to build on the success of years past. And there's no better time to capitalize on Roanoke's generations of success and strength than now.

Introducing Roanoke Rising: The Campaign for Roanoke College

Roanoke Rising is a $200 million campaign designed to propel Roanoke College into the top ranks of America's leading liberal arts colleges and pre-eminent institutions of higher learning. It is an opportunity for all who have been touched by Roanoke to invest in the College's future.

"What excites me most about this campaign is that it fuels the basic human transaction that happens on campus between professor and student, between coach and athlete, between actor and director, between artist and mentor," says President Michael Maxey. "Roanoke Rising is about enhancing our unique environment for making those connections happen in ways that answer the needs of today's and tomorrow's students. Young people are hungry for what we do. Society needs what we do."

Longtime Roanoke benefactor and Board of Trustees member Nancy Mulheren '72, a North Carolina native, was hungry to head south for college after moving to Long Island, N.Y., as a teenager. Roanoke was just what she was looking for.

"I knew it was for me the minute I walked on campus. I looked at other schools, but applied only to Roanoke," Mulheren recalls. "It's a place where you can grow on your own terms and rise to a higher level than you thought."

Rising to a higher level is exactly what this campaign is about.

Since 1842, the College has educated generations of enlightened thinkers, skilled leaders and innovative pioneers. Within the alumni ranks are award-winning authors, notable athletes, internationally recognized scientists, judges, diplomats and key business leaders who have contributed to society in generous ways.

With a history like this, it's easy to see Roanoke as a star on the rise. Years of financial stability, forward academic thinking, a commitment to the study of the liberal arts and an atmosphere of diversity and respect all help make Roanoke a place where great things happen.

Being a part of Roanoke Rising means even more great things are yet to be.

The Campaign Priorities

Roanoke Rising is a five-pronged roadmap to greatness. The College will be enhanced to an unparalleled degree: two new campus facilities; enhancements to academic programming and faculty support; greater financial support for students; annual giving initiative; and an ability to turn on a dime when a new idea presents itself.

A Next-Generation Campus: New Cregger Center and Science Complex

For the next generations of Roanoke students to thrive, a next-generation campus is waiting in the wings that brings academics, athletics, recreation and community engagement under one roof and creates state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories that reflect the College's quality science programs. Two key components in the evolution of this new campus are the new Cregger Center and the new Science Complex. The completion of both will further Roanoke's dedication to the education of body, mind and soul.

The Ultimate 3-in-1 Education: Academic Programs and Faculty Support

Roanoke's core curriculum, called the "Intellectual Inquiry," is the first step in the development of the College's "3-in-1" approach to education, draws students into topics of interest so that they get the essential foundation of knowledge. The next step is to provide more hands-on experiential learning opportunities for more students while giving faculty greater support for the College's continued academic excellence.

Keeping Roanoke Affordable: Scholarships and Student Support

For some students,  the lack of finances, limits opportunity - the chance to study abroad to develop language skills and a global perspective, or the chance to participate in a service-learning experience or a complex research project. Given the opportunity, a student can experience a life-changing turn that sets them on a path they'd never dreamed of. Access to financial aid can help make what Roanoke calls the "90-degree turn" a reality for many.

Immediate Impact Throughout the College: The Roanoke Fund

The Roanoke Fund provides an immediate source of critical financial support for the College. Gifts to the Roanoke Fund as part of Roanoke Rising strengthen academic programs, enhance student life, support scholarships, provide athletic equipment and books for the library, and much more.

A Smart, Bold Future: The President's Fund for Excellence

Sometimes, an idea is too good to pass up and financial resources are all that stand in the way of a solution to a problem or an opportunity for greatness. When unexpected opportunities arise, the President's Fund for Excellence can provide resources that bring vision to life.

Roanoke is known for answering the needs of today and tomorrow. The College has "stood the test of time," says Dr. Norman Fintel, president emeritus of Roanoke College.

"We're known for doing the right thing at the right time," he says. "The time is right for Roanoke Rising."

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Next Generation Campus: New Cregger Center and Science Complex

Whether in the classroom or on the playing field, Roanoke College students have always strived for excellence. Students today, however, may find that a bit difficult in facilities built decades ago.

That's why a funding priority of Roanoke Rising: The Campaign for Roanoke College supports the creation of a physical environment that fosters classroom excellence, recreational pursuits and athletic prowess - in state-of-the-art, modern space.

New Cregger Center

Designed as a setting for the education of mind, body and spirit through athletics, recreation and socialization, the new Cregger Center will sit at the campus crossroads. Its position at the crest of Peery Drive will combine Roanoke's beautiful architecture and modern innovations.

As home to the Roanoke Valley's only competitive indoor track, the new center will offer the College's nationally ranked track athletes a chance to practice and compete at home while providing ample space for intramural, recreational and fitness activities. With more than half of Roanoke's students participating in fitness or club sports, the Cregger Center will be a welcome and wholesome relief.

"The new center is vital to the student experience," says Scott Allison '79, director of athletics. "Students need a place to recreate when it's convenient for them - especially in today's generation. It's equally important to have a rallying point on campus and that's what the Cregger Center is."

This new rallying point will allow for graduation ceremonies to be held on campus during inclement weather and will allow the campus community and the community at large to be further engaged in the Roanoke experience during large lectures, concerts and major events.

At the campus community level, the new center will bring students, faculty, coaches and friends together through event spaces, dining areas, training rooms and teaching offices. For the Roanoke Valley community, it offers a new venue for additional academic, cultural and athletic events. New event seating space for 2,500-3,500 and several other social spaces, including dining areas, will allow the College to host outside speakers and events and bring the entire community together in ways that are not currently possible.

"Roanoke was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me," says Al Stump '52, a former Maroon runner who created an endowed scholarship in honor of his beloved track coach and iconic Roanoke figure Homer Bast, who died on May 20. "The new Cregger Center is going to be a big asset to the future of the school - not only for student athletes, but for the entire campus."

Morris Cregger '64, chairman of the College's Board of Trustees and the new center's namesake, believes facilities are important to the student and faculty recruitment process. "Roanoke Rising will allow us to complete the last two major facilities in our long-range plan and that's an accomplishment we can be very proud of."

New Science Complex

Tyler Barnes '14, of Centreville, Va., loves the Zen-like feeling she gets at Roanoke. The laidback atmosphere, she says, is calm and quiet - perfect for her research on estrogen contamination in the Roanoke River using zebrafish embryos. Barnes - a student of Dr. Chris Lassiter, associate professor of biology at Roanoke - hopes to become a veterinarian.

Barnes and many other students are doing wondrous things within the walls of Roanoke's aging science building. A junior, Barnes was once mistaken for a graduate student as she presented a research poster at an international conference on zebrafish and genetics in 2012.

"Our undergraduates end up rising to the challenge we present," Lassiter says. "They're doing complex techniques that I didn't do until graduate school."

Roanoke's first-rate science programs are shaped by a superb faculty working in, perhaps surprisingly, a facility built in 1970. The new science complex, Lassiter says, will help attract students like Barnes and get them engaged in science not as something learned from a textbook, but as a process and a way of approaching the world.

Roanoke Rising helps put in motion the first phase of a state-of-the-art science complex that will link the Life Sciences, Massengill Auditorium and Trexler buildings into a modern complex. Here, small groups of complementary disciplines will work alongside one another, as they do in the real world.

"I've toured the science building and was a little taken aback at the facilities," says John Turbyfill '53, trustee emeritus and former Board of Trustees chairman. "Over time, we've renovated a few labs, but in general, they're out of date and inadequate."

Turbyfill sees Roanoke Rising as a way to engage alumni in the College's future.

"Roanoke currently does not have a science facility [that] supports the level of excellence provided by its faculty," says Dr. David Gring, president emeritus and a scientist himself. "I'm bullish that this has to be done."

Dr. Ben Huddle, professor emeritus of chemistry, agrees. "The new science complex means Roanoke will be at the forefront of science education in the United States. Roanoke is going places and we can't do it without the support of a lot of people."

"It's time to hook your wagon this star and be a part of it."

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The Ultimate 3-in-1 Education: Academic Programs and Faculty Support

"You and the Law," "The Mathematics of Democracy" and "Humans and the Physical Environment" may sound like college course titles of the future, but at Roanoke College, they're very much of the present.

Innovative courses such as these are offered through the "Intellectual Inquiry" core curriculum, introduced in 2009 to engage first-year students with the foundations of knowledge through real-life application. Designed by Roanoke's distinguished faculty, this kind of academic programming marks the latest milestone in the College's "3-in-1" approach to education, which is based on a history of offering strong majors.

Roanoke Rising: The Campaign for Roanoke College will help fund the development of another crucial milestone: an expanded hands-on experiential learning program for all students. Strong majors, an engaging curriculum and multiple "real world" opportunities to apply lessons learned is what defines the "3-in-1" education found at Roanoke.

It is also defined by an outstanding faculty. Roanoke Rising will allow faculty to delve deeper into what's best for the student, not only through academic programming but also through the identification and application of best practices and access to technological advancements.

As Dr. Richard Smith, vice president and dean of the College, explains, "Everything we're doing is intended to push our faculty and our program. We are becoming the leader in liberal arts education in America."

Indeed, the Intellectual Inquiry curriculum is fast becoming a model for colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.

Academic Programming

Jacob Manthey '13 jump-started his career path as a business major the moment he opted for an internship through Pathways, Roanoke's experiential learning program. As a human resources intern at nearby Carilion Clinic, Manthey participates in high-level meetings and regularly contributes his ideas.

"I've been given whole programs to run. I'm not just 'the intern,' I'm part of the company in a real way," he says. "This experience has proven to me that everything we learn in the classroom, no matter how tedious it may seem, is directly applicable to the outside, corporate working world."

From corporate experiences to study abroad programs, Roanoke's experiential learning opportunities help students like Manthey broaden their view of the world and their role in it. It's what helps young people grow from students to adults with the capacity to make a difference.

Roanoke's experiential offerings include research, internships, service learning, study away and creative projects. Each experience includes individual and careful planning on the part of faculty as well as students, an ongoing evaluation process and a results reporting mechanism.

Each experience also carries a price tag.

"A student doing research might have costs associated with equipment or travel," says Dr. Richard Grant, professor of physics and director of experiential learning. "In that case, we make grants available to help offset those costs. We want to take down the barriers to participation. Our program will grow in interest, but there's always more demand than there is funding."

With support from Roanoke Rising, Grant and his colleagues will be able to remove the barriers to participation while adding more choices for students.

Faculty Development

Dr. Gail Steehler always knew she wanted to be at a place where students and teaching really mattered. A national job search brought her to Roanoke College 28 years ago. Today, she teaches chemistry and serves as associate dean for academic affairs and general education. As a teacher herself, Steehler knows firsthand what it's like to be in the trenches of the academic environment. As associate dean, she's well aware of the time and effort it takes to create programming that engages and motivates.

"It's important to support faculty because they are ultimately the ones who work directly with students. If we want to push our students to greater heights, then we need to do that for the faculty. We need to push them and inspire them."

Inspiring faculty and students is a key priority of Roanoke Rising.

"We believe we create environments where students are in the best position to learn," Richard Grant says. "To keep our faculty on the cutting edge and support them in their innovation efforts, thereby continuing to create these environments, we need more resources to help them."

Resources made possible through the Roanoke Rising campaign, he says, include monetary support to attend conferences and time to develop new courses or re-tool pedagogies.

"In the corporate world, one could say this is our 'R and D' money," Grant says. "It's the money we're investing in our faculty to help them be more creative and more innovative."

Creativity and innovation is part of the Roanoke College success. "We all focus on our core mission," says Steehler. "Let's keep doing what we do well and build on that success."

But it is new ideas, she says, that will take the College forward.

"Bringing new opportunities to our students requires new funding that enables teachers to take chances," Steehler says. "Roanoke Rising will allow all of us to open doors. If you don't open doors, you don't know what's on the other side and that's what education is all about."

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Keeping Roanoke Affordable: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Growing up in pre-World War II Belgium, Regine Archer experienced ready access to an education. "I was used to schools where costs were low if students were productive and could handle the materials," she says.

But life obstacles that placed that education outside her grasp. The Nazi occupation interrupted her educational pursuits. Still, she never forgot that intellectual growth is liberating.

Today, from her home in Salem, Archer is helping students attend Roanoke College through a scholarship she established a decade ago.

"Education is so important for a person's development, for their future and for their aspirations," says Archer, who received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree from the College in May. "It leads to better earnings and a fuller life. It sounds so simple, but education is the way to succeed and, ultimately, to make a contribution to the greater community."

More than 90 percent of Roanoke College students rely on financial aid and generous scholarships, like that created by Archer, in order to pursue their degrees. Roanoke Rising:  The Campaign for Roanoke College addresses the growing need for student financial assistance.  Scholarships will help bridge the gap between a student's ability to attend Roanoke and the actual cost of the student's education. Through contributions to the campaign, the College can assure motivated, capable students a place among Maroons.

Roanoke Rising will also provide defining experiences through student support. Top tier institutions recognize that students who travel abroad, engage in internships, participate in research, develop creative works and assist others through service learning are better educated and prepared to meet the world's challenges. They are also more marketable to employers and better able to adapt to a diverse or global work environment. While Roanoke offers these experiential learning or hands-on opportunities, the College must ensure that all students have equal opportunity to participate in them.   

Katie Holland '14 witnessed the impact of study abroad in her life. As an international relations major and a recipient of the David Bittle Scholarship - named for the first president of Roanoke College - she's already studied in France and visited eight countries in the process. A lover of language and world cultures, she studied in China through a U.S. Department of State program while in high school. Her next study abroad program at Roanoke will take her there again.

"Eventually, I'd love to work for the State Department, possibly within a foreign embassy," she says.

Not only has Holland's experience confirmed her vocational calling, she has come to appreciate the learning environment at Roanoke. After being in big, lecture-style classes abroad, she found Roanoke's personalized focus to be invaluable.

"I've formed relationships with my professors here and I feel like I'm getting a better education because of that," she says.

Barbara McKee Bays '78, a Bittle Scholar herself, also formed relationships with her professors. One in particular - the late foreign language professor Lynn Eckman - inspired her to create a scholarship of her own.

"She was quite an inspirational figure and the person I wanted to grow up to be," Bays recalls.

Bays was able to establish the scholarship thanks to a foundation created by her father. "My father knew the value of an education," she says. "He wouldn't have gotten one himself if it hadn't been for the scholarship he received. My father showed my family and me that it's important to be there for people who need that chance."

The Rev. Dr. Theodore Schneider '56, a member of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees, believes access to a liberal arts education at Roanoke through financial aid and scholarships, as well as providing students with a supportive learning environment, is a crucial building block of the Roanoke Rising campaign.

"Although Roanoke is a much bigger college than when my wife [Doris L. Schneider '56] and I attended, it feels the same," he says. "There is a devotion to the College. Alumni like us invest in the College because it treated us well as students."

"But support also comes from others who have seen the success of the school," he says. "Where there is support, there is ownership."

When people give to Roanoke, they are investing in the promise that Roanoke and its students will pursue excellence - an ethos that distinguishes Roanoke.

Brenda Porter Poggendorf '81, vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, concurs. "Scholarships enable students to attend Roanoke," she says. "Student support ensures that as many students as possible have the opportunities that matter while they are here."

"Fully integrating these experiences into a classic liberal arts education is a fundamental part of what makes a Roanoke College education unique and highly successful."

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Immediate Impact: The Roanoke Fund

When Roanoke College operates like a well-oiled machine year after year with academic programs led by superior faculty, a library filled with resources, scholarships to help ease financial burdens and a more than reliable infrastructure, it's because of the Roanoke Fund.

But the significance of this powerhouse support mechanism doesn't stop there.

The Roanoke Fund's giving capacity is continuous. It provides athletes with the equipment they need to pursue competitive excellence and students with opportunities to study away from campus while giving back to their communities.

How is this possible? It's because of every single gift from every single contributor every single year. And it's not the size of the gift that matters; it's the power of the collective.

That's the significance of a gift to the Roanoke Fund. In fact, the impact of the fund is so great that it would require an additional $40 million in endowment funds to equal the same level of support that The Roanoke Fund currently provides.

"When you give to the Roanoke Fund, you give to the very heart of what Roanoke College is all about," says  Pam Cabalka '76, Board of Trustees member and Roanoke Fund Chair. "Giving to Roanoke is about attracting the best students and the best faculty and it's about maintaining our buildings and landscaping. It's about the ability to provide scholarships and technology in the classroom."

Some of these areas are not well known to donors, Cabalka says, but they are critical, and she is passionate about growing the Fund's participation levels under the auspices of the Roanoke Rising campaign.

All gifts to the Roanoke Fund - regardless of size - increase the value of every gift to the Roanoke Rising campaign. As the College's annual giving initiative, the fund supports the institution's greatest needs day after day. In fact, the impact of the fund is so great that it would require an additional $40 million in endowment funds to equal the same level of support currently provided by the Roanoke Fund.

The fund's strength comes from friends, faculty and staff, and from loyal alumni like Sandy Mulheren '02 who, inspired by the philanthropic example of his parents Nancy Mulheren '72 and the late John Mulheren '71, created the Young Associates program as a way for graduates of the last decade to make a mark on the future of the College.

"I found a home at Roanoke," Sandy Mulheren said. "The camaraderie I experienced there was incredible. And it applied to faculty as well as students. When I talk to faculty today they still draw me into their excitement for their subjects and for the Roanoke experience."

The Roanoke experience was, and still is, a family affair for the Mulherens. Just as his parents - who met at Roanoke College and became two of its most generous benefactors - Sandy Mulheren met his wife Vanessa '02, in the same setting that is as inspirational today as it was then.

Bob Rotanz '78, another who found a home at Roanoke, is a strong supporter of the Roanoke Fund and the Roanoke Rising campaign. He loved the Roanoke experience so much that he stayed in the Salem area after graduation and co-founded the iconic Mac and Bob's restaurant. He also serves as an unofficial spokesman for all things Maroon-related.

The Roanoke Fund, he says, is a way to show support of the Roanoke experience so that it can continue for others in new and improved ways.

Says Rotanz: "It's like a magic wand for the future of the College."

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A Smart, Bold Future: The President's Fund for Excellence

It has been said that opportunity never knocks twice at anyone's door. At Roanoke College, it doesn't have to because of an innovative approach to quickly seizing an opportunistic moment the first time around.

"The President's Fund for Excellence allows President [Michael] Maxey to react quickly when an unexpected opportunity or great idea presents itself," says Vice President for Resource Development Connie Carmack. "It gives him the flexibility and agility to quickly bring a vision to life."

These visions can take any form - from meeting a pressing campus need to strengthening an academic program to taking advantage of newly imagined technology. Whatever the case, the president can react to a great idea without having to see it pass by because of funding challenges.

"If there's something we need to respond to that presents itself, this fund gives us the latitude to capitalize on that opportunity," President Maxey says. "In my work, I've seen a tremendous number of our graduates become wonderful entrepreneurs who contribute to our community and to our society through creative business endeavors. I see the President's Fund for Excellence as a mechanism that allows us as an institution to respond to opportunities and to encourage entrepreneurial behavior on the whole campus."

Lynn Dale and Frank Wisneski, incoming Parent Leadership Council co-chairs, agree. As specialists in asset management, business development and strategic business planning in the profit and nonprofit arenas, both are appreciative of Roanoke College's solid financial foundation as well as its sound business practices. Their daughter Sarah Dale '15, is majoring in communications.

"Roanoke has been a financially solid institution for many years," Wisneski says. "And it's been solid without a significant endowment which is impressive. To have a fund like this is a great idea because it creates a margin of safety for unforeseen opportunities. That's key to helping the institution serve its mission. It provides an ability to satisfy both laudable and necessary objectives."

Roanoke College has proven to be the perfect place for Sarah to grow into adulthood and discover her strengths.

"It's been a good journey," Dale explains. "We've been very impressed with the way in which the College communicates with kids and parents. We've felt a strong sense of community. When Sarah saw President Maxey on the treadmill at the gym, for me, the 'community' came full circle: the president doesn't sit in a house on the hill."

Giving to the President's Fund for Excellence, Dale says, offers the College the agility needed to seize moments that, if missed, might mean the difference between an ordinary experience - and an exceptional one.