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Donation to SCC Foundation funds stabilization, beautification project on SCC Giles campus

Retired Spartanburg ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Roël and his wife, Dr. Kathryn Hicks, know a bit about being students. His years of schooling to become a physician and her years as a college professor give them a close connection to the classroom that led them to fund a new project at Spartanburg Community College.

A generous gift from the couple to fund a creek stabilization and beautification project on SCC’s Giles campus will enable horticulture students to participate in a multi-year project focusing on ecology and environmental stewardship.

(L-R) SCC Horticulture Program Director Jason Bagwell, SCC President Michael Mikota, SCC Horticulture Instructor Jay Moore, Patrick Cullina, SCC Foundation Executive Director Bea Walters Smith, Dr. Larry Roel, SCC Arboretum Director Kevin Parris and Dr. Katie Hicks.

“Katie and I both are very connected to being students,” Roël said. “We believe that students having areas of peaceful contemplation to reflect on their studies is extremely important. We’re very pleased to be able to provide such an area for future generations of students.”

The donation from Roël and Hicks will help SCC’s School of Horticulture cover the costs of building a 12-ft. x 55-ft. bridge to safely connect horticulture gardens on either side of a creek that runs through the campus.

Bridge construction will be handled by an outside contractor, with SCC horticulture students taking on beautification and creek stabilization efforts once construction is complete, according to Jason Bagwell, chair of SCC’s Horticulture Department.

“The generous donation from Dr. Roël and Katie Hicks will allow us to safely manage property on both sides of the creek,” Bagwell said. “It not only adds to the educational value of our program, but also the beautification and safety of the area.”

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Adds SCC Horticulture Instructor Jay Moore, “One of the big things we teach in everything that we do here is sustainability. We need to take care of our waterways and think about the people that are downstream from us and how we affect them. This donation will open up a multi-year project to work with students on ecology and environmental stewardship.”

Roël, the founder of Eastside and Westside Eye Centers in Spartanburg, and Hicks, a Professor Emerita of Art and Art History at the University of South Carolina Upstate and present owner of The Oakland House in Spartanburg, say they enjoy contributing to projects that involve beautification of the environment and those that create areas of contemplation and reflection that are important in the learning process.

“Katie and I are delighted to be part of this project,” Roël said. “It will enable students to enjoy the beauty of the natural settings on campus and encourage future careers in landscape design and nature conservation.”

SCC’s School of Horticulture is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021. It offers the only Associates degree in horticulture in the Upstate and gives students a hands-on teaching environment at one of five recognized arboretums in Spartanburg County.

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