Roanoke College leaders say landmark donation will help school move forward as a whole



SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) – When leaders at Roanoke College heard about a former student’s cash donation, it was hard to contain their excitement.

“I literally jumped,” said Roanoke College president Mike Maxey.

The donation came from Shaun McConnon, who graduated from the school in 1966. McConnon has had a successful career in technology and said his studies at Roanoke College helped him get to where he is today.

McConnon received a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. Her gift is to help advance plans for the school’s new science center.

“It gives us a chance to fill the gap that currently exists and move the whole college forward,” said Maxey.

McConnon also “challenges” other former students of the school to show their support, just as he has.

“What Shaun’s legacy will not only be the ability to support a very important and essential piece of campus infrastructure, but he also gives back to our alma mater, engaging with our alumni and making them stand out. reunite as Maroons and celebrate this gift, ”said Kim Blair, vice president of resource development.

Every student who attends the college is required to take several science courses and the leaders hope to make this building a centerpiece for everyone who attends the college, regardless of their specialty.

You can find the full press release below.

“Roanoke College President Michael Maxey told the Board of Trustees Oct. 28 that the college has received the largest cash gift in the school’s 179-year history.

Shaun McConnon, a Massachusetts-based cybersecurity expert who founded several high-tech security companies, donated $ 15 million for the college’s new Science Center. He graduated in 1966 from Roanoke College.

“Shaun McConnon’s extraordinary gift represents a new chapter for Roanoke College, and we are grateful for it,” said President Maxey. “Shaun’s donation will help us achieve our goals for the new Science Center, a space that will benefit many generations and our surrounding community. Once completed, the Science Center will foster the kinds of meaningful academic and personal connections Roanoke College is known for. It is an exciting time in the history of our College.

With his record-breaking donation, McConnon challenges the College to match the donation when Maxey retires in August 2022.

“I hope my donation and story will help other alumni reflect on how Roanoke College has been able to help and inspire them in their lives and careers,” said McConnon. “I felt that at this point in my life, after a rewarding career, I would give back to Roanoke College. I ask all alumni to consider making a donation for the future of the College and the new Science Center. It will be rewarding for them, the College, and future students who aspire to greater things.

McConnon majored in biology at Roanoke College, with a minor in chemistry. He credits several Roanoke College professors with the decisive role in his success. “Dr. Karl Beck in psychology was phenomenal and Dr. Harry Poindexter in history,” McConnon said in a 2013 article. In his major and minor programs, he particularly remembers Dr. Harry Holloway Jr. in biology and the Dr Charles Bondurant in chemistry as a stimulating academic powerhouse whose teaching has helped him throughout his life and career.

McConnon remembers his writing, history and psychology classes as particularly useful in his life, both in his career and especially as a writer. He credits English teacher Dr Matthew Wise for teaching him how to write and how to approach the process. McConnon, also an author, has written several books, including “Supremis“, a science fiction novel. McConnon is currently editing a book he recently wrote on his career in the tech industry.

McConnon began his technology career at Honeywell and then joined Data General and Sun Microsystems. The next phase of McConnon’s career has been to create, build and then sell high-tech security companies that detect abnormal, suspicious, or intrusive activity. He founded four companies: Raptor Systems, Okena, Q1 Labs (acquired by IBM to form the security division) and BitSight Technologies.

The new science center will impact all students at Roanoke College – those who major in science and those who specialize in other academic fields.

Each Roanoke student takes at least three course programs that will be housed in the Science Center. One-third of all courses on campus will be taught at the Science Center. Most of the student’s research will take place there, and it will be home to three of Roanoke’s 10 most popular majors: Psychology, Biology, and Environmental Studies.

“Thanks to Shaun’s generosity, we can imagine a college with a future state-of-the-art science facility that will make our already exceptional institution even greater. With the help of the entire Roanoke College community, I know we can meet Shaun’s challenge this year, ”said Kim Blair ’93, vice president of resource development. “Shaun’s phenomenal gift and challenge to our alumni will help us make this transformational space a reality and benefit generations of future Maroons. “

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