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Legacy of Fintel


Photo Courtesy of Brieanah Gouvieia

Article Written by Paige Stewart


Roanoke College lost the person who spearheaded a movement for architectural, financial and academic improvements both within the College and beyond. The cam- pus library bears his name. Ac- cording to Roanoke’s website, Fintel arrived at a low point for the school. RC was struggling to attract and retain students, and its endowment was suffering. During Fintel’s presidency, which extended from 1975 to 1989, Fintel made it a priority to rescue the school from its poor academic and financial state. RC promptly underwent a series of building and curriculum projects designed to expand its size and available resources for students.

Within the the time that Fintel was president, Olin Hall, the Elizabeth Campus, and West Hall were all added to the cam- pus map. Fintel also oversaw the debut of the Roanoke College Honors Program in 1986. Perhaps the biggest contribution Fintel made during this period was his extensive fundraising campaign for what is now Fintel Library. According to Roanoke’s history book “Dear

Old Roanoke,” Fintel raised the entire $8 million needed for the project in just 15 months. He oversaw appeals to local businesses, recent graduates and the Board of Trustees to raise the majority of the funds. Roanoke College archivist Linda Miller recalled the 1962 transition of the library from Bittle Memorial Hall, which housed the former College library, to its current lo- cation. Students volunteered to manually transport the 30,000 books between the two buildings in what became a large procession.“You would walk up to the back door of Bittle, get your books, and follow the row of people in front of you, making sure not to step out of line,” she said. “Then you would be directed to the appropriate floor in the new building.” Miller said the entire process took exact- ly two hours and 13 minutes to complete. Aside from its structural differences, the new Fin- tel Library had several internal adjustments. It scrapped the old card catalog that was formerly used to document item trans- actions, for example, in favor of more modern technology systems.The Spring 1989 edition of The Roanoke College Magazine noted that Fintel pushed for the new library because he believed that it rests at the heart of the liberal arts tradition.