The new issue of Roanoke magazine commemorates Roanoke College's 175th anniversary by highlighting a few of the many examples of how the College has emerged as a leading liberal arts institution over the past 25 years.
Succeeding in the decades-long quest for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Strengthening a program that propels graduates into some of the best law schools in the country. Creating a path for Roanoke students to receive Fulbright awards.
Envisioning—and conceiving—athletic facilities with impact that far exceeds touch lines, baselines and windowed walls.
Beyond the field of dreams
For Maroon Hall of Famers Morris Cregger, '64 and Don Kerr, '60, lessons learned on the playing field at Roanoke College provided a strong foundation for their success in business.
In vast appreciation, Cregger and Kerr have been ardent supporters of Roanoke athletics.
Cregger—the owner and CEO of Cregger Company Inc., a charter member of the Athletic Hall of Fame and chair of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees—made the lead contribution to establish the new Morris M. Cregger Center. The 155,000-square-foot facility houses the Health and Human Performance Department and features a performance gym with a 2,500-seat capacity, a fitness center and an athletic training clinic. Kerr—owner and CEO of Kerr Industries, Inc., and a Roanoke trustee—provided the lead gift for the Donald J. Kerr Stadium, built in 2006 for soccer, field hockey and lacrosse competition.
Together, Cregger and Kerr—who are close friends—gave $5 million to build, inside the new Cregger Center, the Kerr-Cregger Field House. It includes event seating for 3,500 and a 200-meter indoor track and is the only one of its kind in the Roanoke Valley.
"I hope this facility will be valuable for recruiting and retaining students, but I also hope the entire campus community will enjoy it as a gathering place," says Cregger. "We are blessed to have it. There's nothing else like it in our athletic conference or in the state of Virginia."
Says Kerr, "Roanoke really helped set the path for my career. I feel thankful to be able to give back to help the school continue to provide an outstanding experience, in the classroom and on the field."
Quest for the Key
Dr. David Gring, Roanoke College's ninth president, was in the final months of his 15-year tenure when one of the College's long-time goals was achieved. National Phi Beta Kappa Society officers arrived on campus in March 2004 to install 28 Roanoke faculty, administrators and staff as the Nu of Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and to award them their charter.
"This day represents a dream come true," Gring said then. "It's the culmination of a five-decade journey. I'm very proud to be here at this particular time. We owe so much to those who came before."
The Phi Beta Kappa Society, founded in 1776, is the nation's most prestigious liberal arts honor society. With its charter, Roanoke became one of just 270 colleges and universities to shelter a chapter.
Roanoke at 175
Three years ago, Jenny Rosti bought a picture frame, large enough to hold eight photos. As the new director of scholarships and fellowships for Roanoke College, she asked students who received these prestigious awards for study and research abroad, to send her a photo that represented their experiences.
Fast forward to the present. Rosti needs to buy a third frame.
The frames represent a picture that is becoming clearer each year. A growing number of Roanoke students are applying for and receiving these competitive national scholarships.
Since 2012, 23 Roanoke students have received some of the nation's top collegiate scholarships and fellowships, including Fulbright Awards, Benjamin Gilman International Scholarships, Harry S. Truman Scholarships and others. That's compared with seven Roanoke students who received these awards between 2002 and 2011.
"There's a real excitement growing," says Rosti.
Law school training ground
Embarking on the rigorous, expensive academic undertaking that is law school, today requires deliberate preparedness, says Dr. Todd Peppers, Henry H. & Trudye H. Fowler Chair in Public Affairs at Roanoke College. When he joined the College faculty in 2002, he set out to strengthen the existing pre-law course of study to ensure that students with law school aspirations graduated with the tools needed for acceptance into and success at the best schools.
In the past decade, particularly in the years since the program was named in honor of S. Maynard Turk '49 and his brother, the late Judge James C. Turk '49 in 2010, Roanoke's pre-law program has established an impressive record of placing students in top-tier law schools. Add to that, a reputation that a law school applicant from Roanoke College has the chops to succeed.
"It's pretty astounding success," says Peppers, pre-law program coordinator. "We've had a slight increase in pre-law majors, but more than that, we've seen a difference in the quality of school and success students have in those schools."
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