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Spring 2018 Download Cover
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The power of the gift

He’s set the bar. Now what will we do? An editorial on the gift of the new Rosalind S. Richardson Center for the Arts and the new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium

I got there early to get a good seat. After all, as the editor of Wofford Today, I needed to be front and center for the Oct. 21 major announcement teased in emails from President Samhat for days leading up to the event.

Everyone else had the same idea. I’ve never seen Leonard Auditorium so packed—entire athletics teams piled in, fraternities and sororities, faculty and staff.

Reserved seats placed Jerry Richardson and his family on the front row followed by Wofford’s Board of Trustees and special guests. That was clue number one. The draped easels on stage provided clue number two.

A staff member sitting on the floor, because there was no longer any room on the pews, began sending tweets and Facebook reports on the crowd and the excitement igniting the air.

When President Samhat announced that Mr. Richardson was donating a center for the arts to Wofford in honor of his wife, people in the audience gasped. Chill bumps popped up on my arms.

My first thought was that the strategic vision, just adopted by the Board of Trustees, is no longer just a vision. I realize that planning is not a passive thing, but planning without forward progress is too soon forgotten. The momentum of the announcement lifted those of us in Leonard Auditorium to our feet, but what happened next brought us to our knees.

Rosalind Richardson was completely surprised by the gift. She looked up at her husband, gave him the sweetest of smiles and placed her hand on his knee. When he covered her small hand with his much larger one—a hand that once caught touchdown passes for the Wofford Terriers and later for the Baltimore Colts—well… let’s just say many of us were wiping tears from our eyes. Their kiss brought renewed sniffles and searches for tissues.

Of course, we were happy for Wofford—ecstatic, overwhelmed, bursting with joy at what this would mean for every Wofford student—but we were more than moved that Mr. Richardson would share this touching moment with all of us. He extended his well-known love of family to Wofford College, and we are all richer for it.

Even more amazing, less than a month later on Nov. 17, Mr. Richardson did it again with the gift of the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium—another packed house, another tearful announcement, another standing ovation that lasted until Mr. Richardson stood twice to wave to the crowd, another building and another step toward the realization of the strategic vision.

Since then I’ve wondered what we could accomplish at Wofford College if everyone shared that type of love and commitment to our alma mater. Did Jerry Richardson have any idea as he was walking across the stage at Commencement at the end of his senior year that he would one day make such a difference at Wofford—service on the Board of Trustees, the donation of endowed scholarships, a variety of annual and capital gifts throughout the years, bringing the Carolina Panthers Summer Training Camp to Wofford and now funding a new center for the arts and a new indoor stadium.

Watching current students change classes, walk up the steps of Burwell to breakfast or study on the steps of Main, I can’t help but wonder what they will accomplish one day both for Wofford College and the world. Maybe Mr. Richardson’s greatest gift to Wofford won’t be a building or a scholarship. Maybe it will be his example. May we all find ways to contribute what we can to this place and the future students who will call Wofford home.

The Rosalind S. Richardson Center for the Arts

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The 54,500-square-foot building will feature a material pallet of limestone, brick and copper. Large areas of glass will connect the interior to the outdoors, filling art studios with natural light and creating a sense of transparency and openness between spaces and across an outdoor sculpture garden. The building will be energy efficient and will feature high-performance theatrical lighting, rigging and audiovisual systems.

Key elements of The Rosalind S. Richardson Center for the Arts include: 

  • 300-seat performance hall with a modified thrust stage and fly loft
  • Museum for Wofford’s permanent collection
  • Student gallery
  • Black box theater
  • Dressing rooms and green room
  • Scene shop
  • Acting studio
  • Costume design studio
  • Painting studio
  • Mixed media studio
  • Ceramics studio
  • Technology studio
  • Seminar classrooms
  • Faculty offices 

 

The Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium

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The 92,000-square-foot facility will include a 3,400-seat basketball arena and a 500-seat volleyball competition venue. The facility will replace Benjamin Johnson Arena, which will continue to be used as a first-rate facility for intramural and campus recreational activities.

The Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium will have a seating capacity for non-athletics functions, such as Commencement and concerts, of 4,500. It will include home and visitor locker rooms for multiple sports, a state-of-the-art training room, coaches’ offices and team meeting rooms. Other features include a video board and ribbon boards, plus designated areas for students, fans, children and donors. Four open-air suites also are planned.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington '89