As Hampden-Sydney graduates gather today across the U.S. for the annual celebration of the College's Rhetoric Proficiency Exam, they will have exciting news to toast. Hampden-Sydney College is announcing today a $2 million gift from alumnus William L. Pannill '77 to support the 40-year-old Rhetoric Program's next chapter: an innovative and collaborative space known as the Center for Rhetoric and Communication.
The Tiger Inn's fall 2017 move to the Brown Student Center left vacant a well-traveled and centrally-located space beneath Pannill Commons. Now, plans are underway to transform that space into a state-of-the-art facility that will leverage the success, reputation, and resources of the Rhetoric Program in the service of a truly distinctive academic experience. The Center for Rhetoric and Communication will house the Rhetoric Program and its faculty members, as well as the writing center, the Ferguson Center for Public Speaking, student publications, the office of undergraduate research, and a new center focused on public history.
"Nothing can be more important than teaching a young man to express himself well," said President Larry Stimpert. "This belief—and the Rhetoric Program itself—is truly the cornerstone of our academic experience. The creation of the Center for Rhetoric and Communication will place our central academic program in the physical center of campus so that we can build on the remarkable 40-year legacy of our Rhetoric Program. Employers consistently seek college graduates who are capable of communicating clearly and persuasively, collaborating with others to find solutions, and conveying specialized knowledge confidently. This unique, dynamic, and highly visible facility will enhance the distinctive value we offer young men."
The facility's design concept marries the vibrant intellectual life inside the space with a freshly landscaped Chalgrove Point, as well as a new dining terrace above. Most walls will be glass, coupling acoustical privacy with visual exposure that invites participation in a variety of activities centered on the practice of communication, from tutoring in Rhetoric to editing The Tiger newspaper. The space will include classrooms, a Rhetoric studio, presentation practice rooms, and shared space in a center ellipse, as well as areas and opportunities for students to implement their communication skills.