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$4 Million Challenge Advances Davidson's New Athletic Center

Athletic CenterLearn more about the Vance Challenge.

Davidson College today announced a $4 million challenge led by Samuel Ginn and Ann Vance Ginn of Hillsborough, CA, to honor Ann's father, the late Harry L. Vance, Davidson class of 1926. If the challenge is met, the gift will name the Harry L. Vance Athletic Center-a title that involves much more than a name on a building. The Ginns' generosity will provide tremendous opportunities for success at Davidson, athletically and otherwise.

Vance was a first-generation college student from Huntersville, N.C. and was the ultimate athlete, participating at the varsity level in football, baseball, wrestling and track/field, and earning nine varsity letters. He still holds the record for most letters earned by a student athlete at Davidson. Additionally, his peers voted him the winner of the Norris Trophy, which recognized him as the Outstanding College Athlete of the Year.

Following graduation, Vance was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Marines and later went on to a lengthy and successful career with Southern Bell. He enjoyed a long and happy marriage to Willie Grimsley Vance before he passed away in 1985. They raised two daughters, Ann and Lee, who shared their father's love of sports. College archives refer to Vance as "one of the leading lights in the sport life of the campus, one of the most feared batters in the college ranks, the star of nearly every football contest his senior year, and easily the best Guard in NC and excellent All-Southern [Conference] material."

In addition to the lasting benefits to the Davidson family and community now and into the future, the Vance Challenge provides an extraordinary opportunity for alumni, parents and friends to make their gifts to the athletic center go further. With every gift made to the center from this point forward, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar until the challenge is met, Davidson moves closer to celebrating the construction of this much-needed, game-changing facility.

"My sister, Lee, and I can't think of a more fitting way to honor our father than by giving back to his alma mater," said Ann Vance Ginn. "The Vance Challenge marries two of his great loves-Davidson and athletics. What made this opportunity even more appealing to us is that the entire Davidson community will feel the effects of this exciting project. We're honored to become a part of Davidson's future in this very special way."

Davidson's vibrant athletics community and unwavering commitment to support 21 Division I athletic programs presents immediate cause for an athletic center of this nature. Additionally, the college's flourishing dance program and engaged club and intramural sports programs add to the list of regular consumers of currently overcrowded spaces. The athletic center will have a direct impact on the Davidson student experience with increased access to practice and training facilities. This expansion, in turn, will alleviate scheduling burdens as it relates to space in the Baker Sports Complex, resulting in a more balanced approach to athletics and academics.

"On behalf of the college, I want to offer my thanks to Sam and Ann Ginn for this remarkable challenge gift, which provides both inspiration and impetus for the new athletic center," said Davidson College President Carol Quillen. "The whole Davidson community knows what this facility will mean for our college, now and into the future. Its value is immeasurable. We are so grateful for the Ginns' generosity and vision, and our community eagerly accepts their challenge."

Like his father-in-law, Sam Ginn built a successful career in telecommunications. Following executive roles with Bellsouth, AT&T and Pacific Telesis, he launched Airtouch, which was later sold to Vodafone-the company that was purchased by Verizon, which then became Verizon Wireless.

No strangers to philanthropy, the Ginns-through personal giving and their family foundation-have generously supported countless organizations with special attention to higher education, the arts and breast cancer research. Sam Ginn is the namesake for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University, his alma mater. He has served as the impetus behind the wireless engineering degree program at Auburn and continues his involvement with the institution through its wireless advisory board. Earlier this year, the Ann Vance Ginn Plaza was named at Auburn as well as the Ginn Gateway that borders the campus in recognition of the Ginns' support. Sam serves as an advisor and consultant to numerous investment and technology organizations and associations.

Sam and Ann Ginn have been married for 50 years. They have three adult children, Matthew Ginn and wife Michelle, Samantha Ginn Boyd and husband Jon, and Michael Ginn, and six grandchildren.

More information, architectural renderings and a detailed outline of facility features can be found at To learn more about the Vance Challenge, contact DAF director Annie Porges at 704-894-2395 or, or make a gift today at