Motivated by the Arts

by Albert Raboteau
Photos by Logan Wallace and Amanda Loman

ribbon cutting for the Moss Arts Center

More than 350 donors, some of whom joined President Charles W. Steger at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, pledged their support for the construction of an elegant new home for the arts at Virginia Tech.

The role of philanthropy in the completion of Virginia Tech's $100 million Moss Arts Center was overwhelmingly evident at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility on Nov. 1.

Speaking to a crowd of 300 seated people and many others standing, Ruth Waalkes, the university's associate provost for the arts, who also oversees the center, described the building as "a unique combination of facilities made possible by a community of philanthropists."

She then asked all donors in the audience to stand. Dozens did, including many whose names now grace prominent spaces within the center. But the total community of philanthropists that helped make the building a reality is broader still. In all, more than 350 people donated toward the center project during a fundraising effort that started in 2004. With more than $31 million received or pledged, the university surpassed its $28 million private fundraising goal for the center's construction.

Patricia Buckley Moss

Patricia Buckley Moss, who named the center, said that the educational portion of the center's mission, along with the impact the facility will make on Southwest Virginia, appealed to her. "All of us have to try to make a difference, to educate kids, and to help them have some self-esteem," Moss said. "I learned my self-worth through the arts."


Sherwood "Sherry" Payne Quillen (health and physical education '71), who described the scope of the arts center project as "larger than life," provided support for the Sherwood Payne Quillen '71 Reception Gallery.

Roya Gharavi, Floyd W. Merryman III '81, and Pat Merryman

(From left) Roya Gharavi, Floyd W. Merryman III (management '81), and Pat Merryman posed in the Merryman Family Learning Studio. Pat Merryman said that her personal interest in the arts, along with the potential for area schools to partner with the university on learning programs in the center, "were the real selling points for me."

Ann and Bill Holtzman

In the Ann F. Holtzman Conference Room with her husband, Bill Holtzman (horticulture '59), Ann Holtzman said Virginia Tech "has come to represent so many different parts of the human being and of the mind" and added that developing an arts center was "the last horizon the university had not done."

William C.

William C. "Jack" Davis (left), standing with his wife, Sandra (to his left), in the Street and Davis Performance Hall, said the facility would be a "dynamo" that would help advance both the university and its surrounding region. (At right) Nicholas Street (general business '53), standing with his wife, Fay (finance '77), was one of several donors motivated by President Charles W. Steger's championing of the importance of the arts in education. Street said that he "just believed in Dr. Steger's vision for the university."

Chris and Gail Wollenberg

Chris and Gail Wollenberg gave a gift toward the Wollenberg Foundation Orchestra Pit. Chris Wollenberg said he and other trustees of his family's foundation saw the project as a way to help the university become an even more comprehensive institution and to demonstrate in high-profile fashion that "this isn't just an engineering school; it's an everything school."

T. Marshall Hahn Jr., Betty Hahn '82, Jean Hahn, Doug Chancey '78, and Anne Hahn Hurst '80

In the William Marshall Hahn '74 Theatre Foyer, former Virginia Tech President T. Marshall Hahn Jr. gathered with (from left) Betty Hahn (art '82), Jean Hahn, Doug Chancey (secondary education '78), and Anne Hahn Hurst (management, housing, and family development '80, M.A. student personnel services '83). Hahn said donating toward the arts center appealed to him and his family. "It's truly an amazing facility, and it will be a source of support and a catalyst for the continuing strengthening of the arts at Virginia Tech," Hahn said.

Gene '62 and Anne Fife

Similarly, Gene Fife (business administration '62), with his wife, Anne, in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, said the facility "fits right in with President Steger's concept of educating the whole student."

Albert Raboteau is the director of development communications.

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