Two former Roanoke College presidents and first ladies wives received the College's highest award during Alumni Weekend.
Dr. David Gring and his wife, Susan, and Dr. Norman Fintel and his wife, Jo, received Roanoke College medals during an awards luncheon in the College's Cregger Center on Friday. Norm Fintel, who had been battling cancer, passed away on Friday. Jo Fintel accepted the award along with her family.
The medal, given annually, recognizes people who have demonstrated leadership, intellectual integrity, and a dedication to serving their communities. This year marks the 50th year of the medal.
Gring, Roanoke's ninth president, oversaw the College's sesquicentennial celebration, and he led The Difference campaign, which included the building of the Belk Fitness Center, the Colket Center and Sutton Commons and the renovation of West Hall. Through this campaign, the College's endowment quadrupled to $94 million.
While president, Gring focused on strengthening the student body. During his tenure, financial aid improved dramatically and scholarships awarded based on academic competition became more prevalent at Roanoke. The student body represented 38 states and 24 countries, with double the percentage of minority students than a decade prior.
The College's academic standing also climbed. Once listed as one of the Best Regional Colleges in the South, Roanoke was named one of the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges in U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, in 2004, Roanoke gained a prestigious Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
Susan Gring was devoted to her role as first lady at Roanoke, hosting events and traveling with her husband to alumni events around the country. She did this while she maintained her career in health care, holding several positions including her role as the executive director of the Carilion Foundation.
“Everybody claims ownership of the College and has a vested interest in it doing better. As long as that keeps on, it's unstoppable.”
Dr. David Gring, president emeritus
Fintel, Roanoke's eighth president, was known for his extraordinary work growing and enhancing the College, from the size of its student body to its endowment, which double during his first five years.
Major building and expansion occurred on campus during Fintel's tenure, including the construction of Olin Hall, the College's Fine Arts home, and the Bast Center. The College also acquired the Elizabeth Campus property and the former Roanoke County Courthouse, which is now West Hall, home of the Business Administration and Economics department.
Fintel also started the Honors Program, and he strengthened Roanoke's relationship with the Lutheran Church. He enhanced the College's Religion & Philosophy department by hiring new faculty, and he invited the Virginia Synod, which represents Lutheran churches in the state, to move its offices to Roanoke's campus.
Jo Fintel spent her time traveling thousands of miles with her husband on behalf of the College, and she welcomed many guests and dignitaries into their home. She also volunteered in the community with the Achievement Center and its Foundation. In 1981, The Salem Times-Register named her Mother of the Year.
An anonymous donor named Fintel Library for Norm and Jo Fintel in 1991.
For more on President Fintel and to to see the Fintel Medalist video, see Roanoke Remembers President Emeritus Norman Fintel.