Roanoke College receives its largest cash donation from alum

October 29, 2021 GMT

SALEM, Va. (AP) — A Roanoke College alumnus is donating $15 million to the Virginia school — its largest-ever cash donation.

The gift from Massachusetts-based cybersecurity expert Shaun McConnon will go toward a new science center, the college said in a news release Friday.

Every student takes at least three classes from the programs that will be housed in the center, according to the release. A third of all courses on campus will be taught there.

The 150,000-square-foot (13,935-square-meter) project will combine new construction and renovation of existing spaces, The Roanoke Times reports. Its features — including a 140-seat auditorium, 35 research labs and 12 classrooms — will increase the square footage of classroom and study space by 300%.


College spokesperson Teresa Gereaux told the newspaper that 1,865 students are currently enrolled at the private liberal arts school. It was founded in 1842 as Virginia Institute near Staunton, later moving to Salem.

The total cost and timeline for the center are currently unknown, according to Gereaux. The school has received $35 million for it, including McConnon’s donation.

The 1966 graduate majored in biology with a minor in chemistry and was on the track team. He has served on the school’s board of trustees and said he previously gave the school $1.7 million.

McConnon worked at Honeywell and Data General and Sun Microsystems before creating and selling high-tech security companies.

“I’m hoping that my donation and my story will help other alumni think about how Roanoke College may have helped and inspired their lives and careers,” he said in the release. “I felt that at this point in my life, after a rewarding career, I would give back.”