Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
ERIC BRADY | The Roanoke Times Taken 11/04/2009 Aerial image of Roanoke College and Salem.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Exciting things are happening in the Roanoke Valley. I read about them on a weekly basis. From the biomedical boom, to the enriching cultural organizations, to the greenway, to our identity as an outdoor recreational destination, our renewed local vitality is something we can all celebrate.
That vitality includes the sustained and accelerating progress at Roanoke College. Recently, the college announced Roanoke Rising, a new campaign that is the culmination of rising ambitions and an exclamation mark for a college that has been rising for many years.
Woodrow Wilson once said in jest that the only thing more difficult than moving a cemetery is changing a college. He was president of Princeton before he was president of the United States, so he knew something about the challenges of changing an institution of higher education. But just as we are experiencing a regional renaissance, Roanoke College is continuing on its upward trajectory, and we can celebrate the school’s accomplishments as confidently as we can other positive local marks of progress.
A large part of the Roanoke College formula for success is the geographic balance of our student body. Roanoke has the unusual privilege of serving both a local and a national constituency. One-quarter of the students at Roanoke come from within 100 miles of the campus; the remaining three-quarters hail from more than 40 states and more than 25 countries. That mix is rare in higher education, but we believe it is one of the best aspects of the Roanoke College experience.
Another component of the college’s formula for success is our outreach to the region. The second day after arriving at Roanoke for orientation, students participate in a Habitat for Humanity house build on our campus. Once finished, the house is moved on piers to a permanent location, where it provides housing for a Roanoke Valley family in need. This program, called “R House,” is now in its seventh year.
New student orientation also includes trips to downtown Roanoke and downtown Salem on successive nights to learn about the area and its available resources. Connecting our students to the community is a vital part of their educational experience, and we believe our students are enriched by attending college in this wonderful region.
Roanoke College also serves the Roanoke Valley through our many lecture and cultural series, most notably the Henry H. Fowler Public Affairs Series. Former U.S. presidents, foreign heads of state, a U.S. Supreme Court justice and other leading public figures have visited our campus. In each case, the public is invited to join our faculty and staff at free and open lectures. The presence of these leaders of public thought enriches the valley as much as it does our students.
Another, more tangible example of our service to the area is the new Cregger Center, which will be built as part of the Roanoke Rising campaign. This state-of-the-art sports center and event space, with its competition-level indoor track, will fill a pressing need not just for the college’s athletic programs, but also for the student-athletes of the Roanoke region. The center will also be available as a venue for public events, whether sponsored by the college itself or as part of community programs. Construction of the center, and of the other new academic buildings planned as part of Roanoke Rising, will have a direct impact by providing jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy.
Over the past few decades, Roanoke College has been moving forward with steady, determined steps in other areas as well. Our faculty members are nationally and regionally recognized. For example, over the past nine years, four of Roanoke’s professors have been selected as the SCHEV professors of the year for the commonwealth of Virginia. Our professors also publish important works on a regular basis, and serve on local and regional boards. But even with these forms of deserved recognition, they are still teachers first, with an emphasis on quality classroom experiences for our students.
Our students have always been strong, but they are now achieving at historically high levels. Two Roanoke scholars have earned awards this year from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the Fulbright Summer Institute. Other students have presented their work at academic conferences, such as the annual ASIANetwork Conference, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting and the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine, and they move into local internships and employment by the hundreds each year. You probably know many of those who have chosen to stay in the Roanoke area after graduation for employment and engagement in the local community. More than 4,000 of our alumni live in the Roanoke Valley — an infusion of talent and an important resource that constitutes a “brain gain” not only for the region but also for other local higher-education institutions.
Our campus has been recognized for its beauty, ranking 18th among the most attractive campuses in the country. Our academic program was included among the 280 colleges and universities allowed to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, perhaps the most rigorous scrutiny a campus can undergo. College presidents and deans, in the U.S. News Best Colleges Guide, chose Roanoke as the fourth-best Up and Coming National Liberal Arts College in America last summer. All of these signs point to a college that is moving steadily forward and is providing a pre-eminent educational experience for our students. For that considerable reason, we are able to pursue our campaign with great confidence.
The Roanoke Rising campaign, then, is about more than fundraising. It is a clarion call to keep Roanoke College growing, gaining and adapting to the challenges of today. We believe that our approach to developing the resourceful and responsible citizens of tomorrow is what we do best — for the betterment of the Roanoke Valley and for our country.
Weather JournalNext system: Possible ice/snow Sat.