Dr. Norman D. Fintel and Jo Fintel

Dr. Norman D. Fintel was the eighth president of Roanoke College, serving from 1975 until 1989. When he and wife, Jeanette "Jo" Fintel, arrived in Salem from Nebraska, he was intent on turning an already good institution into a nationally visible celebration of excellence.

At the onset, Dr. Fintel faced a college whose enrollment and funding were down. His early years focused on increasing the size of the student body as well as the endowment, and he succeeded at both. Academic standards were improved and, in 1986, the College established the Honors Program. Faculty numbers also increased, with a higher percentage holding terminal degrees in their field.

The fundraising efforts of Dr. Fintel and the resource development staff were highly productive, and the endowment doubled in the first five years. With its new "Statement of Partnership," the College once again strengthened ties with the Lutheran Church, and the headquarters of the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now resides in Bittle Memorial Hall.

Bolstered by fundraising successes, the College initiated or continued major building and expansion programs during Dr. Fintel's tenure, including the building of Olin Hall. The Commons received major renovation and became the Sutton Student Center. The Bast Center, replaced the aging Alumni Gym. The College acquired the old Roanoke County Courthouse and the site of the former Elizabeth College. Sections dormitories received renovations. The capstone project, completed in 1991 but planned in the eighties, was a complete overhaul and expansion of the library.

An anonymous donor named it after Dr. and Mrs. Fintel.

Beyond bricks and mortar, Dr. Fintel saw the need to enhance the College's arts and athletics programs. The completion of Olin Hall and the Bast Center made possible expanded and enriched programs to serve and engage the community, as did the establishment of the Henry H. Fowler Endowed Public Policy Lecture Series.

The role of first lady of Roanoke College came naturally to Mrs. Fintel. The field of education had always been one of great interest to her as a teacher of elementary and special needs children. She spent her time traveling thousands of miles with her husband on behalf of the College and welcomed many guests and dignitaries into their home. She actively volunteered in the community with the Achievement Center and its Foundation. In 1981, The Salem Times - Register named her "Mother of the Year."

Following their tenure at the College, Dr. and Mrs. Fintel served several interim presidencies at other Lutheran colleges. Throughout their lives, they invested their time in service to others, especially through service to the larger Lutheran church. Those who knew Dr. Fintel have described him as a servant leader and as one whose calling was to guide those around him to live lives of purpose and meaning.

Norman Fintel and Jo Fintel received the Roanoke College Medal in 2017.