October 15, 2011
Knox College has received $2 million in gifts from four alumni to support the renovation of Knox's historic Alumni Hall.
Trustee Gerald '65 and Carol Klail Vovis '65 have donated $1.5 million to the renovation of the 122-year-old building, the largest gift received for Alumni Hall to date. In their honor, the College will name one of its signature programs, the Center for Research and Advanced Study, now located in Old Main, the Gerald and Carol Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study. The center will relocate to Alumni Hall upon its renovation.
A gift of $500,000 from Richard '57 and Joan Whitney Whitcomb '56 also will support renovation of Alumni Hall.
Knox College President Teresa Amott announced the gifts at a reception Friday in Knox's Seymour Library during the College's Homecoming 2011 celebration.
"Thanks to the Vovises and the Whitcombs, current gifts and pledge support for renovating Alumni Hall now stand at approximately $3 million," Amott said.
Amott praised the Vovis's and Whitcomb's long-standing support for Knox. "With these gifts, both couples have lifetime giving of $1,000,000 or more," Amott said.
A biotechnology executive, Gerald Vovis has worked for Advanced BioHealing, Inc., Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Genome Therapeutics Corporation, while Carol Vovis has held management positions in financial services. They live in Cheshire, Connecticut, where he is president and CEO of Vovis Enterprises. Mr. Vovis is one of the founders of the Geer Research Fund, created in 2000 to honor a retired Knox faculty member, Bill Geer. A noted geneticist who taught at Knox from 1963 to 2000, Geer was Mr. Vovis's undergraduate research advisor.
Richard Whitcomb founded Gypsum Management and Supply, the nation's largest independent distributor of specialty building materials. He and his wife Joan, who both majored in business administration, have each established endowed scholarship funds for Knox students in economics or business and management. They live in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Center for Research and Advanced Study was created in 2007 with a $228,750 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Center oversees a wide range of programs that support advanced work in the natural and social sciences, humanities, and creative and performing arts. The Center also coordinates nearly a quarter-million dollars awarded annually to Knox students for approximately 350 independent study and research projects. Knox's College Honors Program has been praised by the federal Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education as a national model for promoting undergraduate research.
At Knox's Opening Convocation in September, Amott said that a task force headed by Knox Trustee Mark Kleine of Galesburg had begun work on planning and funding for Alumni Hall. Alumni Hall was built in 1890 with the cornerstone laid by U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.