Maroon Musings: The Importance of Giving

Paul Henrickson shares a laugh at the 2013 Baccalaureate.

Paul Henrickson shares a laugh at the 2013 Baccalaureate.

By Rev. R. Paul Henrickson

As every alumnus or alumna of Roanoke College knows, the college sits on a hill. It's a small hill, but to get to any place on campus from off campus, it's an uphill climb.
The front walk, known as Heritage Walk, begins at the north end of College Avenue and ends at the Founder's Circle right in front of the Administration Building, the original structure on campus. The walk is slightly uphill, rising almost two stories in height between Clay Street and the Administration Building.

And this is as it should be; because when a student decides to journey along any "college avenue," it is an uphill climb.

A college degree is not an easy or simple achievement; it requires dedication and hard work. Every student invests four years of his or her life and significant family resources to achieving a college education.  In a recent study conducted by the College Board, more than two-thirds of college-bound high school seniors indicated that paying for college will be a financial hardship for their families. So, when a student travels their "college avenue," they need to be keenly aware of those who have made the path accessible and the slope easier to climb.

On Heritage Walk and in the "Founder's Circle" are carved the names of those who have made significant gifts to the college. Most of these names are alumni of the College, people who are well-acquainted with the uphill journey to a Roanoke degree. The pavers on Heritage Walk are reminders that when students walk the walk of a Roanoke College education, they are supported by thousands of generous people who have literally paved the way for them.

From scholarships, to new facilities, to endowed professorships; Roanoke College has been generously supported by people who believe in Roanoke.

These last words are essential, "...by people who believe in Roanoke College." In the church, we have saying about giving: "Stewardship is everything that happens after you say 'I believe.'"  People give to what they believe in. People give to a vision that invites them to be a part of something that is larger than themselves and a vision that will make a meaningful difference in the world.

Roanoke College equips students with the skills required to work competently and constructively in society. In a diverse and complicated society, the world needs what a Roanoke education offers.

Paving the way for this vision requires generous people who believe in Roanoke College and are willing to put their confidence into action. Alumni are an especially important group of "pavers," because they know first-hand both the value and the challenge of a Roanoke education.
 
Alumni have walked on the path paved by others. Alumni have lived in the residence halls and gone to class in the buildings built brick-by-brick by others who believed in Roanoke College. Alumni have had the road to opportunity paved by those who have brought honor and fame to the College. Alumni have benefitted from the generosity of those who have gone before and believed in the Roanoke vision.

Giving back to Roanoke is not an obligation - it is an opportunity; an opportunity to make the road to a Roanoke education easier and more accessible to another traveler.

Consider the uphill climb ahead and imagine how you will pave their way. You can give them a foothold on their future.

The Rev. Paul Henrickson is the Timothy L. Pickle Jr. and Timothy L. Pickle III Dean of the Chapel Emeritus of Roanoke College. He retired this spring from the College, where he worked for the past 30 years. He spent countless hours ministering to students, faculty and staff, including leading late-night Bible studies with students and traveling to South Carolina and Louisiana to build Habitat for Humanity houses. He was also a spiritual advisor to the College community, making house calls to the dorm rooms of struggling students and helping students and staff with concern and care. For nearly three decades, he was the face of faith at Roanoke College.