Lenoir-Rhyne University officials unveiled architectural renderings of the new Duane and Madeleine Dassow University Commons building project during an event Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Lake Hickory Country Club. Duane and Madeleine Dassow, both 1975 LR graduates, announced their support with a $1 million gift for the project. This is by far the largest gift the Dassows have made to a nonprofit organization and they view this investment as their family legacy, and their way of giving back to an institution that has played a formative role in their education.
"Both Duane and I come from humble backgrounds, and everything that we have right now is because of the foundation we received at Lenoir-Rhyne," Madeleine said. "We are honored to support Lenoir-Rhyne and give back to an institution that continues to excel to meet the needs of today's students and stay true to its mission."
The Dassows met at LR and started dating their sophomore year. After graduation, Madeleine taught for several years and Duane pursued his degree in Master of Business Administration. They eventually married and settled in the Triad area, where Duane started working at the family business – New Home Building Supply. In addition to the Dassows' faith, family, and business, LR has remained a constant in their lives
"Lenoir-Rhyne is an extension of family, so we always make time to be there," Madeleine said.
"We had been involved at LR since the day we graduated. We've served on the alumni board, board of trustees, and board of visitors. We've been through five presidents and supported several capital campaign projects. Lenoir-Rhyne means so much to our family that we are committed to invest in the University Commons."
University President Dr. Fred Whitt announced the goal to complete fundraising for the project by Nov. 1, 2018. To date, LR has raised more than $2.1 million for the University Commons capital campaign and needs to raise an additional $900,000 to complete the project. The goal is to begin construction this fall and complete the project by 2020. The Duane and Madeleine Dassow University Commons project will be created through a blending of both old and new as the original president's home structure, constructed more than 65 years ago, is renovated and a new structure is built on the north side of the building. Signage will be erected in front of the University Commons to honor the Dassow couple and their transformative investment in LR.
University officials have been working for several months with David Patrick Moses Architect, PLLC, to finalize designs for the facility. The first phase of construction will include renovating the current president's home and converting it to administrative and meeting space for campus. The second phase will be the construction of a new building, which will comprise the president's home and significant indoor and outdoor event space for campus gatherings. The president will gather with student groups, meet with faculty, and partner with city leaders and distinguished guests for community building events.
"I am grateful to both Duane and Madeleine for their continued investment and support of Lenoir-Rhyne," Whitt stated. "The Dassows leadership on this project has been extraordinary. The investment of their time, expertise and philanthropy has been a catalyst for success, and we would not be at this pivotal moment without their vision and their faith in the future of LR."
Whitt continued, "The University Commons will bring together the entire LR family – faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends – and help build our sense of community, a hallmark of the LR experience. We are counting on the continued generosity of our alumni and friends to bring this project to fruition."
Those interested in financially supporting this project are encouraged to contact Kelly Knetsche, associate vice president for development, at 828.328.7361 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Andy Anderson, major gifts officer, at 828.328.7167 or email@example.com. More information can be found at lr.edu/universitycommons.