Local Donor Establishes $2.35 million Scholarship for Exceptional Student(s)

June 7, 2017


A local retired professor will establish a new student scholarship at Roanoke College that places it among the most generous financial aid packages in the country. Structured to ensure that exceptionally motivated and talented students will graduate virtually debt free, this scholarship will provide the full cost of recipients’ tuition, room, board, books, and mandatory fees, as well as expenses related to an Honors Distinction Project, an independent project that builds a graduate-level portfolio of practical experience in research or creative works.

On condition of anonymity, the donor established the scholarship in honor of his grandmother, who influenced his intellectual pursuits. The Seubert Endowed Scholarship for Honors Students will be awarded based upon a student’s demonstrated academic record and scholarly potential. “In my career, I was privileged to work with many great minds,” says the benefactor, “and I believed that truly meritorious academic achievement deserved an extraordinary reward.”

“It’s the first of its kind at Roanoke College,” says Dr. Brenda P. Poggendorf, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. “In my experience, few colleges or universities offer a merit-based award this generous and all encompassing.” The renewable, endowed scholarship will fully fund one or more students who maintain their Honors Program status for the duration of their Roanoke academic career, regardless of their families’ ability to pay for college.

“The scholarship will be a powerful resource for recruiting exceptional students and providing them with remarkable experiences that lead to personal and professional success,” affirms Dr. Chad T. Morris, Director of the Honors Program.

At present, approximately nine percent of the College’s 2,000 students participate in its selective Honors Program. Roanoke’s Honors Program has its own general education curriculum designed to provide enhanced academic rigor, heightened intellectual discourse, and significant engagement with communities beyond the classroom. Program participants pursue independent research and fields of study that have placed them among the most prepared college graduates in the U.S.

“Families recognize the value and distinctiveness of a private higher education. This scholarship places Roanoke within reach of anyone willing to work hard enough to be the best,” says

Dr. Richard A. Smith, Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Shirley C. and Donald E. Morel Dean of the College.

For more information about the Honors program or other scholarship programs at Roanoke College, please contact the Admissions Office at 540-375-2270.

Preservation group lauds Clay Street House, Bank Building restoration

February 24, 2017


A local preservation group has recognized a former house and future museum site on Roanoke College’s campus as historically significant.

The Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation presented Roanoke with an adaptive reuse award for its restoration work at Clay Street House, located adjacent to the College at Clay Street and Thompson Memorial Avenue. Each year, the nonprofit recognizes restoration, adaptive reuse and other heritage and historical projects in the Roanoke area.

The Clay Street House’s recognition comes a year after the foundation presented the College with another preservation award –  the renovation of the former Farmers National Bank building on Main Street, which now houses Roanoke’s History department faculty. The building’s main floor now is used as an event and exhibition space for the College and the History department.

The two-room Clay Street House, known formerly as the Tanyard House and the Burke Cabin, is one of the oldest homes in Salem, and it has been nominated for state and national historic registries, according to the foundation. Local historians estimate that the structure was built in the mid-19th century.

Renovations to the small house’s exterior began several years ago after the College received two donations to fund the work. Southwest Restoration in Roanoke did much of the restoration.

Once the house’s interior renovations are complete, the home eventually will become a 19th century Salem domestic museum site, said Dr. Mark Miller, who is David F. Bittle Historian of the College and a History professor.  The College needs about $54,000 to complete the home’s interior restoration, which would involve replacing missing floorboards and reconditioning the walls, among other work, he said.

A 1930’s addition to the back of the house also will be repurposed as a work space for students and as storage for materials.

Miller said he expects the interior work to be complete by the end of this year.

Miller and Dr. Whitney Leeson, a professor of History and Anthropology at the College, said Roanoke students will work in the museum, preparing exhibits and working with artifacts. Some of Leeson’s archeology classes already have used the site for excavations.

Another class, an architecture and historic preservation course taught Dr. Gary Dent, has analyzed the structure’s architectural features.

Along with the site serving as a learning space for students, it could connect well with large Salem historic events and other community initiatives, Leeson said.

“There are a lot of creative things that could be done,” she said.

Roanoke marks important anniversaries in 2017

January 13, 2017


Roanoke College kicks off a year of celebration in 2017. This year marks two anniversaries important to the College: the 175th anniversary of the College’s founding and the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.

Maroon Momentum 175

The theme of the 175th anniversary celebration is Maroon Momentum. Throughout the year, Roanoke will celebrate its history as well as the incredible progress the College has made, particularly that of the past 25 years.

The first 175th event was the campus kickoff at Maroon Madness on Jan. 25 in the Cregger Center. Roanoke College Athletics and Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored the annual event during a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader.

Roanoke women faced Hollins University, also celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. The men’s game against Emory & Henry followed. Between games, there was a special performance by Steve Max, a full-time professional “Simon Sez” (Simon Says) caller. Known nationally for his appearances on TV and at NBA and NCAA basketball halftimes, Max has taken this classic kids’ game to a whole new level!

Reformation 500

As the second oldest Lutheran college in the United States, Roanoke College is also part of this year’s worldwide celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Observances marking the posting of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther in 1517 will be ecumenical and forward-looking as we seek to learn from Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Reformed, Evangelical, Jewish and secular perspectives. A variety of free public lectures will be held throughout the year.

Many more events and activities will be scheduled in the spring and fall semesters to celebrate these important milestones. Watch the web calendar for additional events.

Roanoke magazine

The current issue of Roanoke magazine features the 175th anniversary, with vignettes on the progress Roanoke has made since its 150th anniversary in 1992. An upcoming issue of the magazine will examine the Reformation’s impact on the College’s movement into the future.


Bronze statue of Martin Luther to be dedicated on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 30

October 25, 2016

101216-020-creggerRoanoke College will dedicate a bronze statue of Martin Luther on Sunday, Oct. 30, which is Reformation Sunday, during a 4 p.m. ceremony at the new Morris M. Cregger Center’s Luther Plaza. Luther Plaza is the plaza in front of the Center’s High Street entrance at the intersection of High Street and Peery Drive.

The Cregger Center will be dedicated on Thursday, Oct. 27. More information on that event is here.

Roanoke is the second oldest Lutheran college in America. Luther Plaza and the statue of Martin Luther honor Roanoke’s Lutheran heritage on this year’s Reformation Sunday, marking the 499th anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.

The statue was donated by Charles and Helen Schumann of Richmond, Virginia.  The Schumanns are longtime supporters of Roanoke College and its Lutheran heritage. Their gifts to Roanoke have made possible two professorships in recent years – the Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics, held by Dr. James Peterson, and the Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Lutheran Theology, held by Dr. Ned Wisnefske.

The statue is a bronze one-and-a-half larger than life figure of Martin Luther, created by sculptors Betty and Polly Branch of Roanoke, Virginia. The bronze statue is on a 3,800 pound base of absolute black granite from Uruguay. It is engraved with the name of the statue, “Martin Luther,” as well as the three Lutheran colleges that make up the Roanoke alumni heritage –  Roanoke College, Marion College and Elizabeth College. A plaque placed next to the statue holds a quote from the writings of Martin Luther.

Marion College was a Lutheran women’s college in Marion, Virginia, which closed in 1968. Elizabeth College was also a Lutheran women’s college in Salem, once located where Roanoke’s Elizabeth campus is now. Elizabeth College closed after a fire in 1921. Alumnae of both Elizabeth College and Marion College became part of the Roanoke College alumni body and Roanoke maintains the records of the now-closed colleges.

Members of the media and the community are invited to the Martin Luther statue dedication to celebrate Roanoke’s close ties to the Lutheran Church.

Betty Branch earned both her bachelor of arts and master of arts from Hollins University. Proficient in both painting and sculpture, she has spent a portion of many years working at Nicoli Studios in Carrara, Italy. Branch’s award winning art has been exhibited internationally and has been the subject of television documentaries. Her works, from small to monumental, are in many private, corporate, university and museum collections.

Polly Branch, Betty Branch’s daughter, is a community artist and peace advocate working in a variety of media. Her landscapes and figures most often depict an energetic connection to the natural environment. Her murals and mosaics can be seen in Roanoke neighborhoods across the valley.  Polly Branch earned her bachelor of arts in biology from University of Richmond and a master of arts in liberal studies from Hollins University. She sculpts large scale works with her mother.


Roanoke College to dedicate new Cregger Center

October 25, 2016

081016-109-roanoke-college-cregger-centerRoanoke College will dedicate its new athletic and academic complex, the Morris M. Cregger Center, during a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m.

The ceremony, which will be held in the center’s arena, will include remarks from Roanoke President Mike Maxey, Scott Allison, director of athletics, and Morris Cregger ’64, for whom the center is named. Cregger, who played four sports while at Roanoke, is chair of the College’s Board of Trustees and a charter member of the Athletic Hall of Fame. He is CEO of Cregger Co., Inc., a South Carolina-based plumbing supply business with 32 locations.

The 155,000-square-foot Cregger Center opened in August. It rises five stories and features a 200-meter indoor track in the Kerr-Cregger Field House, a health and human performance lab, an athletic training clinic, a performance gymnasium, the Belk Fitness Center, 10 team locker rooms and more.

Luther Plaza, the outdoor space at the center’s entrance on High Street, features a statue of Martin Luther. It was created by local sculptors, Betty and Polly Branch.

At the back of the center is an outdoor patio that overlooks Kerr Stadium. The patio is named Pirro Patio in memory of former Roanoke lacrosse player and coach, John Pirro ’77.

More than $30.5 million was raised for construction of the Cregger Center. Its estimated economic impact is $1.4 million annually.

Roanoke College receives estate gift for Business Administration and Economics students

October 5, 2016

john-spitzWe are pleased to announce and gratefully acknowledge the life and career contributions of Dr. John V. Spitz and Mrs. Lela Spitz.

John Spitz joined Roanoke College as a professor of Economics in 1969, and he went on to serve a distinguished career teaching business and economics and inspiring many young people to pursue careers in the field. His appreciation for business began as a child, through his father’s successful stores and services, and his outlook was further informed as a youth, fleeing Nazi-controlled Germany and ultimately settling with his family in the United States. He earned his B.A. at Duke University and his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee.

Lela Spitz was a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Knoxville Business College, and she worked for many years in the Roanoke College Admissions office. She was very active in community affairs serving on multiple Roanoke Valley non-profit boards of directors. She also was a political activist working for the Equal Rights Amendment and consumer rights.

The Spitzes’ estate gift will establish the Dr. John and Lela Spitz Endowed Scholarship in Business Administration and Economics. It will be awarded to a rising senior student with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, with preference given to a student with significant loan indebtedness. A portion of the estate will also be used to establish an endowment to provide an annual award of $500 to the Dr. John and Lela Spitz Outstanding Student in Business Analytics (Quantitative Methods).

Other funds will be used to establish the Dr. John and Lela Spitz Endowment to support programming intended to provide Roanoke College students with training, skills and confidence to be successful entrepreneurs. Funds may also be used to support student projects and research, travel for conferences, field trips, awards, lectures/workshops for students, the Federal Reserve Challenge and other opportunities as they may be identified and approved by the Dean of the College and the chair of the Business Administration and Economics Department in support of students.

Additional estate proceeds, which may be distributed to Roanoke in the future, will be subject to designation by the Board of Trustees to support the highest need of the College.


Children honor their parents’ legacy with financial gift to Roanoke College

October 3, 2016



Donald Morel found his future at Roanoke College. The first in his family to attend college, the Midland Park, New Jersey, native was extremely proud of the education that prepared him for medical school and an eventual career in medicine.

Roanoke also was where Morel, a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, found love.

He met Shirley Childs, a Chi Omega sorority member who’d grown up in Rich Creek, Virginia, and graduated at the top of her Narrows High School class. The two, both chemistry majors, married after they graduated in 1956.

Donald Morel went on to attend the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and spent much of the 1960s in medical training and service in the U.S. Army as a captain and medical examiner. The family also lived in Germany for three years as part of his military work.

After retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, Donald Morel became chief of nuclear medicine at the former Allentown General Hospital in Pennsylvania.  Shirley Morel worked as a chemist while her husband attended medical school. She also was a self-taught gourmet cook and a concert pianist who loved Mozart, Liszt and Chopin. The couple had two children, Donald Jr. and Michelle.

An avid learner, Shirley Morel taught herself differential calculus in order to help Donald Jr. with his high school homework.

Donald Morel Sr. died in 1988; Shirley Morel in 2015.

This year, the Morel children, recognizing their parents’ belief in the importance of leaving a legacy at their alma mater, established Roanoke College’s Shirley C. and Donald E. Morel MD Dean’s Chair in memory of their parents. The position currently is held by Dr. Richard Smith, who is vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the College.

The Morels asked that their gift benefit the sciences at Roanoke College.

“Their gift helps ensure that our science facilities, equipment and programs remain at the forefront of what the best liberal arts colleges offer and that the learning opportunities we provide to our students are second to none,” Smith said.

Education was extremely important to the Morels.

“Dad was very proud of the education that he received at Roanoke,” said Michelle Morel. “It was the springboard for him to be accepted at medical school.”

Ultimately, a financial offering to Roanoke “was my dad’s wish,” said Dr. Donald Morel Jr. “Roanoke meant a lot to him.”

It is a symbol of the Morels’ legacy at Roanoke, said President Mike Maxey.

“This gift honors two of our alumni who not only found a passion for science at Roanoke, but also a lifelong relationship with each other,” he said. “Their lives have now come full circle back to the College through this significant gift. This is a wonderful legacy for the Morels and a very special honor for the College.”

Maroon ribbons highlight philanthrophic support

April 12, 2016

MaroonRibbons-2For Alumni Weekend, students placed maroon ribbons around campus to highlight many of the spaces, programs and projects made possible thanks to generous and thoughtful gifts from donors.

These ribbons represent the tangible ways that philanthropic dollars support our campus, and the magnitude of the impact of these gifts made an impression on the community and on the many visitors on campus for Alumni Weekend.

Even with this show of color, the maroon ribbons do not begin to recognize all of the people affected by gifts — students receiving scholarships, professorships funded by donors,  the endowment and operating funds that support every aspect of college life year after year.

Roanoke is extraordinary.  Every day, like generations of individuals who have lived and worked on this campus before, Roanoke is touched by the generosity and commitment of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, corporations, foundations, and friends of the College.

Alumni reconnect for humanitarian purpose

December 22, 2015

Like many fraternity brothers, Chris Caveness ’83 and Andy Jowdy ’82 stayed in touch after graduation. In 2014 the two fraternity brothers, with the re-establishment of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity on campus, decided they wanted to create something exceptional for their fraternity and the student learning experience at Roanoke College.

“President Maxey approached me about establishing a scholarship,” Caveness recalls. “I’d contributed to Roanoke in the past and after talking with him about a scholarship and other interests I had for the Business Administration curriculum, I decided I wanted to do something more.”

 At the same time, Jowdy had an idea to support Roanoke students by creating an ethics-based speakers series. Caveness reached out to Jowdy to discuss creating something unique for Roanoke College. The Pi Lambda Phi Speaker Series and Scholarship Fund began to take shape.

“I don’t think young people have a lot of good, positive role models,” Jowdy says. “The goal was to create opportunities to expose kids to conversations about right and wrong in the context of real-life experiences.”

Back on campus, David Robertson ’89, director of the College’s Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurial Innovation, was focusing the center’s efforts on entrepreneurship so that business students could “learn from someone else’s journey.”

Caveness and Robertson were old friends and hadn’t seen each other since graduating from Roanoke. The two reconnected and, recognizing that the goals of CLEI were in sync with the objectives Caveness and Jowdy had for the new fraternity fund, entered into a partnership.

Working collectively, the three decided that Pi Lam Fund and CLEI would also be the best way to meet their individual goals for giving back to the school in monetary and academic-enhancing ways.

Pi Lam brothers Rob Lyon ’85, Brian McElwee ’84, Peter O’Neill ’85, Robin Peirce ’85 and Bobby Ziogas ’82 joined the cause, and the group created the Pi Lambda Phi Fund to award two scholarships and invite a speaker to campus every year.

“We brothers came together in a significant way so the fund can sustain itself for at least the next 10 years,” Caveness says. “It’s a way for all of us to give back to the College to celebrate the successes we’ve had. It also gives Pi Lambda Phi members a chance to play an active role in the creation of the annual speaking event, the scholarship process and general business management.”

Jowdy says having a fraternity involved in helping manage a fund is unique. “These young guys get to participate in the process,” he says. “Our mission is to provide an environment that fosters the kind of brotherhood that we had.”

If the Sept. 15 inaugural event was any indication, the brothers are on to something.

An estimated 250 people filled the Wortmann Ballroom at the Colket Center to hear Abby Reiner and Deven Schei share their experiences with the Wounded Warrior Project, a national military and veterans’ charity that was founded in Roanoke in 2003. Reiner is Wounded Warrior’s brand director. Schei, a combat veteran who was wounded while serving in Afghanistan, is now a Wounded Warrior spokesman. He is the younger brother of a veteran who was severely injured while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The crowd also celebrated the Pi Lambda Phi Fund’s first two scholarship awards, presented to Mikaela Cook ’17 and Preston Gould ­­’19.

“The involvement of the current Pi Lambda Phi students has been the happiest surprise,” Jowdy says. “They deserve the credit for the event. They put forth the effort and fulfilled the roles we asked them to play. It’s all about trying to help people.”


—Nan Johnson

Endowing the Future of Roanoke

December 22, 2015

In planning for the future of Roanoke College, we’ve taken a hard look at what we do well—what separates Roanoke from other liberal arts colleges around the country. It comes down to this: With our strong mentoring culture, our faculty who love to teach, the wealth of opportunities we offer for first-hand learning, and a highly engaged alumni network, most students who come here find a passion, dig deeply into it, and are ready to go out into the world and live their passion when they graduate.

Looking forward, we want to strengthen this claim. That will mean investing in faculty to expand the breadth of what we teach and the quality of our teaching. It will require new equipment and new facilities, new software and new programs. It will mean increasing opportunities for first-hand learning through student research, internships, service work, study away and creative projects.

All of these investments must be made while working to keep a Roanoke education affordable for students each year, regardless of their financial means. Our diverse student body has grown up in small towns and big cities; they’re children of executives and first-generation immigrants. This mix is key to the Roanoke experience. Living, learning and working with different people opens minds, broadens perspectives, teaches empathy—qualities the world needs in its leaders.

Delivering on the promise to help all Roanoke students find, build and live their passion—today, and for generations to come—requires that the Roanoke endowment grow significantly. We deliver an education today equal to that found in the top liberal arts colleges in America. To compete successfully with them for the best faculty and students, we must have the resources to support our effort.

What is an endowment, and how does it work?

 A college endowment is made up of funds donated to provide support for the school’s mission in perpetuity. Like most colleges, Roanoke’s endowment consists of a number of separately managed funds, many with purposes specified by the donors—such as scholarships or endowed chairs—and others with unrestricted purpose, which allow the College the flexibility to address needs as they arise.

With an eye to the future, these endowments are carefully invested, with a portion of each year’s return reinvested to assure spending parity, regardless of inflation. With a conservatively managed portfolio, the typical spendable return each year is about 5 percent.

To combat the normal ups and downs of the stock market, our investment managers work with a rolling three-year average return. When the market is up, funds beyond the average are set aside for use when returns are below average. In severe downturns, spending may be curtailed to protect the principal.

How large is our endowment, and how does it compare to our peers?

Roanoke’s current invested endowment would rank about 130 among private liberal arts colleges. However, a Roanoke education, in terms of class size, quality of teaching, innovative programming and real-world learning experiences, is better compared to schools with rankings in the top 100 schools that have endowments double and triple ours. To provide quality education on par with these schools and compete for top-notch students, we need to add at least $100 million to our current endowment.

What have others endowed, and how have they benefited Maroons?

Over the years, thousands of alumni, parents, friends and foundations have contributed to our endowment. Restricted endowments have included funding for many important facets of the College’s operations, such as scholarships, programs, faculty development and experiential learning opportunities.

Examples include The Harry J. Breithaupt endowment, which has provided annual awards for Roanoke students who’ve demonstrated excellence in English, history and political science since 2000; The Henry H. Fowler Public Lecture Series, set up in 1983 through an endowment fund in honor of former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry H Fowler ’29; and The Virgil L. Frantz and Wanda Frantz Elliot Endowment, which provides support for faculty and students.

How does an endowment benefit donors?

 An endowment is more than an important contribution to the College today, it’s a legacy you create that will give for generations to come. If you choose to create a restricted endowment, you can fund aspects of the College’s work in which you strongly believe.  Many who set up endowments are recognizing a transformative experience they had at Roanoke, assuring others will have the same experience in the future.


If you are interested in supporting our general endowment fund, or setting up your own restricted fund, please contact Vice President of Resource Development Connie Carmack at (540) 375-2231.





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