Dr. David M. Gring and Susan Gring
Dr. David M. Gring became Roanoke's ninth president in the summer of 1989. His visionary leadership style and strong commitment to liberal arts brought him and his wife, Susan D. Gring, to Salem and propelled the College forward with uncommon momentum during the next 15 years.
Three years into his administration, the College celebrated the 1992 sesquicentennial anniversary with notable events that included the Fintel Library dedication; the production of the play "Fashion," popular in Roanoke's founding year; Founder's Day; a Sesquicentennial Ball; and the publication of a new college history, Dear Old Roanoke, by Dr. Mark F. Miller of the history department.
The same year marked the end of a development campaign, which gave an opportunity to refocus and redirect Roanoke's energy. During the next decade, "The Difference" campaign brought the addition of the Belk Fitness Center, the renovation of Francis T. West Hall, and the building of the Colket Center and Sutton Commons. The College's endowment quadrupled to $94 million.
A primary focus was strengthening the student body. Financial aid improved dramatically and competitive scholarships became more prevalent. By 2003, the student body represented 38 states and 24 countries, with double the percentage of minority students compared to a decade prior. About 40% of Roanoke's graduates went on to attend graduate or professional schools.
During Dr. Gring's tenure, the percentage of full-time faculty holding terminal degrees in their field increased to 95%. Faculty-student interaction increased with an emphasis on independent study, internships, and the Summer Scholar program.
As a result of these accomplishments, the U.S. News & World Report elevated Roanoke to its list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges and, in the spring of 2004, Roanoke gained a prestigious Phi Beta Kappa chapter, culminating a quest that began in 1952.
As Dr. Gring finished his final months as Roanoke's president, a flurry of activity began, which included three new residence halls as well as a new and attractive campus entrance and pathways.
After devoting her first years at Roanoke to learning about the College and establishing her role with it, Mrs. Gring returned to her career in health care. As executive director of the Carilion Foundation, she provided funding for programs that improved the health and welfare of communities in western Virginia. The first Roanoke College first lady to have a full-time job, Mrs. Gring emerged from the experience with a joy found in service to others, both in the community and at the College.
The Grings have both volunteered their time generously, serving on numerous boards in the fields of education, business and health care. Dr. Gring's board experiences include serving as president of the Roanoke Valley Economic Development Partnership, vice-president of the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges, chair of the executive committee of the Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia, and as member of or consultant to many other organizations.
David Gring and Susan Gring received the Roanoke College Medal in 2017.