Roanoke College

Frequently Asked Questions About President O'Hara's Tenure


How long has Dr. O'Hara been president?

Dr. Sabine U. O'Hara began her career as the tenth president and the first woman president of Roanoke College on August 1, 2004.

She was elected by the Roanoke College Board of Trustees on March 30, 2003. Dr. O'Hara succeeded Dr. David Gring, who retired that June after 15 years as president. Robert Wortmann announced her appointment.

Who is Roanoke's chairman of the Board of Trustees?

Robert Wortmann has served on the College's Board of Trustees for 17 years and was elected chairman of the board in October 2003.

Mr. Wortmann is the owner and secretary/treasurer of VRH Construction Corporation of Englewood, N.J. He has served on numerous Roanoke College committees and was chairman of the College's "The Difference" fundraising campaign.

Wortmann is a member of the class of 1960. In 1994, he was recognized for his dedication to Roanoke College with the Roanoke College Medal, the highest award bestowed on Roanoke College alumni.

When does Dr. O'Hara leave?

She intends to be on campus through the rest of the academic year and will participate in important campus events, such as the athletic field dedication in April and the commencement ceremony in early May. Her resignation is effective June 30.

Where is Dr. O'Hara's tenure in the College's history?

Dr. O'Hara is the College's 10th president - and the first woman.

Who will lead Roanoke once Dr. O'Hara leaves?

Robert Wortmann, chair of the Board of Trustees, will work closely with Dr. O'Hara to ensure a smooth transition in leadership of the College. The Board of Trustees is expected to appoint an interim president at the Board's upcoming spring meeting in April. The appointment of the interim president will be effective July 1.

What are the plans for a presidential search?

A formal search process, chaired by Wortmann, will be established to identify Roanoke College's next president.

What have been the College's priorities over the last three years?
The College has completed a successful strategic planning process that:

  • Established a focus on "integrative learning"
  • Established new learning goals for the College
  • Initiated review and reform of the College's core curriculum with a strong focus on the first year experience
  • Created an undergraduate research assistant program
  • Developed co-curricular experiences for students focusing on five key areas of student development: service, leadership, cross-cultural learning, creativity/research/innovation and exploring life goals through internships
  • Began construction projects to implement the new strategic plan goals
  • Completed several successful fundraising initiatives and laid the ground work for the College's next capital campaign

How has the College fared during the past three years?

Set records in enrollment

The College has experienced steady growth in enrollment while maintaining competitive student-to-faculty and student-to-staff ratios. Since 2003, the number of full-time students grew from 1,773 to 1,869. That set an admissions record for the College last fall as did the total number of full- and part-time students attending. (A total of 1,970 students were enrolled.) In recent years, the College has set other records for entering freshmen, student retention and SAT scores.

A record number of students have been living on campus as well, thanks to a multi-million dollar construction project, which completed three residence halls and 156 spaces open to students this fall. The percentage of students in campus housing this year also is the largest in 40 years. Students living on campus number 1,232-or 66 percent of full-time students.

Cash gifts increased by 22 percent, and a record $10 million in planned gifts were received in 2006. That was the largest ever outside of a campaign year.

• Established The Goode-Pasfield Center for Learning & Teaching

Early this month, the College received a substantial gift that establishes The Goode - Pasfield Center for Learning & Teaching, which is a thriving campus resource offering writing support, tutoring services, academic enhancement services and other much needed support for students.

• New professorship created.

At her inauguration, Dr. O'Hara announced the creation of the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Professorship in Art History. Dr. Justin Wolff currently serves as the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Assistant Professor of Art History.

• Tackled new construction

A total of four new residence halls were built and two academic buildings were renovated. Chesapeake Hall opened this fall to house three sororities and a fraternity. In 2005, the College completed construction of CAR (Caldwell, Allegheny and Ritter residence halls). This was the first student housing built on campus since 1968. The two renovated academic buildings were Trout Hall, home of the sociology department, and Miller Hall, home of the English department.

In addition, the College is nearing completion of the new artificial turf athletic field with a 1,000-seat stadium, which will be dedicated in April.

Gained significant federal support for move into "integrative learning"

In October, the College was awarded a nearly half million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education in support of the College's revisions to its general education curriculum. The three-year grant, totaling $452,039, is from the department's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and supports projects considered promising as models for higher education. Roanoke's project will design, implement and assess a faculty development program that supports the College's integrative learning experiences.

College ranked nationally as one of the "fittest" colleges in the country.

In November, the College was ranked as the 19th "fittest college in America" by a survey of Men's Fitness magazine.

• The College started off this academic year building "R House," a home for Habitat for Humanity.

For five days, the two-bedroom house was built on campus by students, faculty and staff and then moved to Roanoke city to be given to Habitat for Humanity.

Dr. O'Hara led area business leaders in assessing the community.

Dr. O'Hara designed and was the lead author of a study for the Business Council that outlined a strategy for improving the region's economic development potential and the quality of life of its residents.

She also is a member of the Board of Directors for several national, statewide and regional organizations, including the United States Society of Ecological Economics, the Association for Social Economics, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Roanoke Valley Economic Development Partnership, the Business Council, and United Way of the Roanoke Valley.

Financial Report and Fundraising:

• The College has an endowment with a market value of $107 million.
• The 2006-2007 operating budget is $65.1 million.
• Roanoke College continues to operate in the black - as it has for the last 52 years.
• Currently, the College's goal is $1.7 million for the 2006-07 Roanoke Fund, which is an annual fund-raising initiative to strengthen academic programs and enhance student life. Contributions are now at about $1.39 million.
• Fundraising for the new turf field and stadium has been completed and gifts and pledges have been identified in the amount of $2.7 million needed for construction of the athletic field now underway.
• The College received a $100,000 grant from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation. The grant is designed to strengthen Roanoke's resource development work and to encourage charitable gifts to the College. Titled "Nurturing Growth," it will help expand support for the priorities and programs outlined in the 2015 strategic plan.