Roanoke Rising Campaign
by Meagan Cole
Everyone in the Roanoke College community knew something big was coming to campus when one of the biggest white tents and a dance floor appeared on the Back Quad one week before Alumni Weekend. As the weekend approached, rumors were circulating and videos were encouraging as the tent became fitted with lights. The anticipation continued to fire up the community, anxious to hear President Maxey’s speech and attend one of the biggest parties of the year. Finally, that Maroon moment unlike any other had arrived.
On the night of April 13th, the Roanoke Rising campaign began with an equally big announcement to match the big white tent. President Maxey presented the goal he and various administrators have worked to put in place: to raise $200 million towards the Science and Athletic departments. Two new buildings are currently in the planning process; one to replace the Trexler and Life Science Halls and the other to tear down Bowman Hall and build a new gymnasium.
The Science Quad is almost half a century out of date and well overdue for revamping. The new facility convening in one space will provide infinitely more opportunities for the students to interact within their studies. Updated laboratories equipped with the latest in technology gives them resources that will better their futures by already knowing what there is to know and preparing for that work environment after college.
On the other hand, some wonder why a third gymnasium needs to be built. Well, the Cregger Center, named in honor of Morris Cregger ’64, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, will be completely furnished with stadium style seating. Both sports events and concerts will be that much more inviting as well as exciting. In addition, the plans currently include a new fitness center, indoor track, and swimming pool.
Teresa Gereaux, Director of Public Relations, elaborates, “[The Cregger Center] is more than a gym. It will provide a social and academic space for students to gather, much like an athletic Colket Center. It may even have another eating venue.”
The two buildings in the early stages of progress are not the only reason for the extravagant fund raiser. Additional funds are being set aside for an increase in the number of scholarships Roanoke College can give out. Members at admissions believe in the prospective students who have superior grades but cannot afford tuition rates or room and board. These scholarships will give them the chance to receive a better education regardless of their financial standing.
The final portion will go into various academic programs. The 3 in 1 Program, for example, funds faculty development, study abroad, internships, and other classes that require travel expenses. The Roanoke Fund is another, supplying athletes with uniforms, paying light bills, keeping the computers running and so on. Finally, the President’s Fund gives President Maxey extra spending in the case of unforeseen opportunities.
Already, a $25 million donation was given by Nancy Baird Mulheren ’72 in memory of her late husband, John Mulheren ’71, and for the purposes of Roanoke Rising. Her donation had originally been anonymous, but the worth of their inspirational story together needed to be heard. Fortunately, she changed her mind shared her emotional tale of how they thrived at Roanoke College so many years ago to those fortunate enough to be present on Saturday; there wasn’t a dry eye in the tent. The Mulheren family also includes their son and daughter-in-law, Sandy Mulheren ’02, and his wife, Vanessa ’02.
Several students on campus are now wondering how the Mulheren family will be recognized, particularly whether or not their name will be attached to the future science complex. Mrs. Gereaux says, “As leading donors, the Mulherens [often] named building projects after people at Roanoke College who made an impact on their lives instead of after themselves. For example, they have made donations in the past, particularly towards the Bast Center, and chose to name the building after Roanoke legend, Coach Bast.” The only places their name is listed are on the fountain outside of CAR and the bridge at the entrance to the school.
More uplifting news followed the announcement Saturday night as money was quickly raised, bringing the numbers to over $100 million by the end. However, Mrs. Gereaux wants to clarify any misunderstanding on how the donation process works, “$25 million does not mean we have all of that money in cash, in the bank; it was a pledge, a commitment that we felt comfortable in announcing, but it is not necessarily money that is here now. Usually, the money will be paid out several years.” With that in mind, the scheduled renovations will not likely be moved up even if the money is raised sooner than their offices anticipate.
The sole concern students had out of the entirety of the campaign came with the release of the primary video. Several expressed doubts regarding whether one student’s voice was genuine or not. The interviews leading up to Connor Toomey ’13 heavily discuss the diversity of Roanoke College students, making the Senior from Texas an excellent candidate to film, known for his thick accent. However, intentionally dubbing over his voice in the video appeared, to the students, as though the college did not appreciate the diversity he had to offer at all.
In fact, the rumors are true that Connor’s voice was replaced, but not for the reasons most believe. Mrs. Gereaux explains, “Connor did a great job in delivering his lines for the video, but he had a terrible cold that day and the microphones picked up every detail of his cold and congestion. The videographer made the decision to have it overdubbed due to the cold and the fact that it was hard to hear him clearly.”
As for the overall event in the tent, students found the time to mingle with alumni, young and old, as an invigorating experience. Several enjoyed the mutual drinking and dancing, particularly the campus-wide Wobble that had been enthusiastically advertised over Facebook earlier in the week. Unfortunately, Bruce Springsteen did not make an appearance as some hoped, but the Roanoke College Choir captured the campaign’s inspiration with the song “Roanoke Rising.” The kickoff was certainly a success, and now Roanoke College hopes the campaign will be equally as fulfilling.