Being There: Unveiling Virginia Wesleyan College’s Greer Environmental Sciences Center

By Sustainability Manager, Sara Teaster, LEED AP BD+C

On Tuesday May 20, the Greer Environmental Sciences Center was gifted to Virginia Wesleyan College in honor of outgoing President William T. “Billy” Greer. This gift was a secret – titled in-house as “Big Fish” – to ensure the project’s confidentiality until the announcement of the gift.

The announcement came at the end of a presentation which included a donor- and alumni-funded $175,000 scholarship, also named in honor of the president. Jane Batten, a member of the Virginia Wesleyan Board of Trustees and friend of Billy and Fann Greer, spoke about President Greer’s commitment to the environment and how that passion led to recruiting excellent faculty for the natural science department, whose enrollment has grown by over 100% in the last few years alone. She introduced the anonymous gift by stating: “The Greer Environmental Sciences Center will help you realize your vision, Billy, of completing the quad.”

Only a few members of the 250+ audience had advance knowledge of the project. When the building was announced, an audible, collective gasp echoed throughout the room, followed by a standing ovation and cheers and tears of joy. President Greer was visibly overcome by the honor. As the announcement was made, the fly-through video of the project, created by VMDO, began to play. The movie was played a second time, as the applause in response to the video overwhelmed the voice-over during the first showing! Finally, the physical model of the building was unveiled, so President Greer and attendees could view the future space close-up.

The Board of Trustees congratulated the design team and the faculty members who had offered feedback over the past five months, as President Greer examined the model and pumped an exuberant “Yes” with his fist. She ended her announcement by stating that the project was moving forward the following morning with a site survey. Congratulations to the project team and everyone at Virginia Wesleyan College!

 

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