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The Fralin family was lauded as not only advocates but also benefactors of higher education.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Heywood Fralin (from left), Robert Sandel and William Fralin Jr., enjoy a lighter moment as Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger (from left), William Fralin Jr., VWCC President Robert Sandel, Heywood Fralin, Gov. Bob McDonnell, VWCC Chancellor Glenn DuBois, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and VWCC board Chairman Forest Jones help dedicate Virginia Western's new Fralin Center.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Virginia Western Community College’s first new building in 20 years now bears the name of the late philanthropist whose charitable trust gave the college its largest gift ever.
Roanoke real estate developer and philanthropist Horace Fralin and his late wife Ann Fralin are the namesakes of the college’s new Center for Science and Health Professions, which officially opened in August.
The center was dedicated to the couple in a ceremony Wednesday. Hundreds of people attended the event, including Gov. Bob McDonnell and college presidents from Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.
“The Fralins are tremendous people,” McDonnell said. “They are dreamers.”
Fralin, who died of cancer in 1993, was a noted area businessman and philanthropist. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he served as president of the Virginia Tech Foundation before being named to the university’s board of visitors. A building on the university’s campus also bears his name.
In 2012, the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust pledged $5 million over five years to Virginia Western for an endowment to be used for scholarships.
The trust founded by and named after Fralin regularly gives to Roanoke Valley nonprofits and charities.
The gift to the Virginia Western Educational Foundation was one of the largest through the Virginia Community College System.
At least 75 percent of that funding is being awarded to students pursuing degrees and certificates in STEM ( science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields of study or health care. The Center for Science and Health Professions houses those programs.
McDonnell and others said Wednesday those fields are where jobs will be in the future.
Speakers heralded the community college as an important player in the area’s future, including its economy, seeing the college as the way to prepare workers for 21st-century jobs and lead to greater economic development.
The $26 million center now named for the Fralins sits on the corner of Colonial Avenue and McNeil Drive in Roanoke and has been several years in the making. The four-story, state-of-the-art facility is 68,000 square feet and has provided much needed space and upgrades for some of the college’s fastest-growing programs.
“If we do our part, the college will return a vibrant economy to our region,” said Heywood Fralin, the brother of Horace Fralin and co-trustee of his charitable trust.
Fralin, who noted his brother created the trust to improve the quality of life in Roanoke Valley, has long heralded the link between higher education and a robust economy.
He has sat on the board of visitors at Tech and the University of Virginia and is chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. He also played a central role in the Grow By Degrees coalition, launched by the council four years ago, that has worked to reverse budget cuts to higher education.
During his remarks, Fralin thanked those in attendance and called on the community for continued support for Virginia Western.
“Please don’t leave here with the impression $5 million is sufficient. It is not. Buildings don’t provide scholarships, and that is what the college needs,” he said during the dedication ceremony.
The hour-long event was held just outside the center’s main entrance within sight of a sign bearing the building’s new name. Afterward, guests mingled inside and in the courtyard behind the facility.
In the lobby, a picture of Horace and Ann Fralin on their wedding day was displayed prominently.
Virginia Western President Robert Sandel, who called the Fralins “change agents” during his remarks, said afterward it was a “no brainer” to name the building for a family who has been so dedicated to higher education.
“Today is a great day,” he said .
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