Philanthropist and businesswoman Ms. Joan Gillings has pledged $1.2 million to renovate Rosenau auditorium, a much-used classroom and event space at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Construction on the room is expected to begin this fall.
“I am deeply honored to provide the support necessary to undertake renovation of the auditorium,” Ms. Gillings said. “This is not about new carpet and drapes; this is about reinvigorating a … space [that will serve our current students by providing] a creative, collaborative, modern environment best suited for today’s and tomorrow’s generations of teachers and learners.”
School leaders recently have been proud to introduce two high-technology, student-friendly classrooms, 2306 and 2308 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, which can accommodate a number of different teaching formats. The auditorium renovation will result in larger classes and groups having access to the same types of technology and versatility.
“High-tech facilities are not simply nice to have, but are absolutely essential,” Ms. Gillings said. “Technology allows us to design and create learning spaces that foster collaborative learning, increase global access to people and information, and allow for meaningful interaction with content. As we prepare our students to become productive citizens and scholars in an ever-changing, globally-connected world, we must provide them with the intellectual and technological tools to be not only practitioners but innovators and leaders in global public health.”
Ms. Gillings said that being able to have an immediate impact at the School was a “delight.”
“It’s exciting to see the architectural plans, to imagine the upcoming transformations and to understand the positive effect they will have,” she said. “Perhaps most of all, I look forward to seeing the faces of students when they walk into the renovated space for the first time.”
“This is such a visionary gift from one of the School’s most generous and forward-thinking donors,” said Ms. Crystal Hinson Miller, associate dean for advancement at the School. “Joan understands that to remain at the forefront in attracting the best students and faculty we must have the best facilities for instruction and learning. This gift helps us do that and will ready a high use room for the next decade and beyond.”
In 2008, Ms. Gillings and her then-husband, Dr. Dennis Gillings, endowed the School with a $50 million gift that resulted in its being renamed the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
“Knowing that I’m doing something to help the School’s dedicated students and faculty members, something that will help propel their work into the world so they can implement solutions to public health problems – this is why I do what I do,” Ms. Gillings said.