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Roanoke College Receives $3.5 million Gift From Former President and First Lady

Roanoke College is thrilled to announce today that Dr. David and Susan Gring, the College’s ninth president and first lady who served from 1989 to 2004, have committed to making a gift approximating $3.5 million to the College to support a student research endowment and the College’s planned Science Center.

To date, the College has raised $50 million toward the $70 million goal for the construction of the new Science Center.

The Science Center is a critical capital project on the College’s agenda. Plans for the center include state-of-the-art teaching and learning spaces, and a complete renovation of the Life Sciences and Trexler buildings. The plaza of the Science Center will be named the Dr. David M. and Susan D. Gring Plaza.

Every student at Roanoke takes at least three courses from the programs that will be housed in the Science Center. One-third of all courses on campus will be taught in the Science Center. Most of the student research will take place there, and it will house three of Roanoke’s 10 most popular majors: psychology, biology and environmental studies.

“The new Science Center will impact every student at Roanoke College and the Grings’ donation gets us that much closer to making the Science Center a reality. Dr. Gring essentially formalized and extended undergraduate research at Roanoke College during his tenure, which makes this donation especially wonderful and fitting,” said President Michael Maxey. “David and Susan’s contributions to Roanoke College are immense and we are grateful for their service to the College. Science has been an important part of both of their lives, and we are thrilled that they have directed their gift in a way that will bolster the sciences at Roanoke College for future students.”

As a student at Franklin & Marshall College, Dr. Gring experienced firsthand the value of undergraduate research and went on to have a career as a college biology and genetics professor and administrator prior to his role leading Roanoke College.

Susan Gring was the first Roanoke College first lady to have a full-time day job. She served as executive director of the Carilion Foundation, where she worked to raise money for programs that improved the health and welfare of communities in western Virginia. She and her husband have stayed closely connected to Roanoke College over the years, and Susan Gring said they especially want to get involved in the Science Center project.

“The College today is a place with significant momentum, with excellent faculty and limitless opportunities for students,” said Susan Gring. “Dedicated faculty and a community that cares, those are two of the reasons we are contributing to Roanoke College. Life has been good to us; Roanoke College has been good for us. So, we decided to contribute to something we love. The Science Center will open possibilities we can’t even fathom today, and we want to be a part of that, albeit in a small way.”

During Dr. David Gring’s 15 years as president, the College embarked upon several building projects including completion of the Fintel Library and the Colket Center; the student body became dramatically more diverse; the faculty acquired a Phi Beta Kappa chapter; and faculty-student interaction increased, with an emphasis on independent study, internships and the Summer Scholars program. He said it was impossible not to get excited about the possibilities currently present on the Roanoke College campus.

“Roanoke is a college with a restless ambition,” Gring said. “It is dissatisfied with the status quo and has always wanted to be better in the future than it is in the present. When you have a faculty, staff, alumni base and broad constituency relentlessly working to improve and become better, you know that you have been given the opportunity to contribute to a unique environment.”

Kim Blair, vice president for Resource Development, praised the Grings and their visionary plans for the Science Center.

“Their support is inspiring, and we are grateful they are allowing us to publicize their gift to the Science Center in order to help others think about their own personal philanthropy,” Blair said. “David and Susan Gring are wonderful ambassadors for the College and understand the importance of building a science facility that matches the level and abilities of our superb faculty at Roanoke.”

Dr. David Gring praised President Maxey and First Lady Terri Maxey for their leadership during a period of unprecedented challenges not faced by the college since President Charlie Smith led the college through World War II. To maintain forward progress during their tenure has been extraordinary Gring said. “Among the Maxey’s many accomplishments has been the ability to keep the dream of the Science Center alive and guide it on a path toward reality,” said Dr. David Gring.   “When built, the Science Center will provide a facility that matches the quality of the faculty and students who will teach, research and learn there.”

“I’m a scientist,” Gring said. “All of my degrees are in biology and genetics, so there’s a warm spot in my heart for the place of science in a premier liberal arts college where students and faculty are engaged in the excitement of co-inquiry. Susan’s career was spent in health care, which is integrated completely with the sciences.”

“The science building is something I confess I wanted to have happen during the time we were there, but it was not to be,” Gring said. “President Maxey and Terri have brought a renewed enthusiasm for this project, and we are delighted to be able to contribute. It will be a transformational life-changing facility when complete.”

For more information about the Science Center, visit


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