The newest academic building at Davidson College will be named in honor of E. Craig Wall Jr. '59. The E. Craig Wall Jr. Academic Center, a $74 million, 149,000-square-foot LEED Silver certified project, will enhance transdisciplinary activity, enable innovative forms of learning, and provide a premier, collaborative space for chemistry, biology, psychology, neuroscience and environmental studies as well as gathering spaces for the arts, lectures and community building.
"The Wall Academic Center will enable the Davidson College community to collaborate in addressing the tough challenges we face as individuals, as a nation and as the human family, and this naming is a fitting tribute to Craig and the legacy of leadership and service he created at Davidson," said President Carol Quillen. "Well-known as thoughtful and creative, Craig's unwavering commitment to and powerful vision for Davidson is recognized and realized in this new academic center. We are grateful to the Wall family for allowing us to honor Craig in this way, and we also wish to thank all of the donors and supporters who made the development of this space a reality, in particular, The Duke Endowment and Hugh McColl, John Kuykendall '59, and the late Alex Porter '60. This is a great day for Davidson College."
"It is impossible to imagine how any alumnus could have served Davidson more tirelessly, consistently, effectively and nobly than did Craig Wall," said President Emeritus John Kuykendall '59. "He was always a believer where Davidson is concerned. He believed we could meet any challenge and maintain the core values of the place while doing so. He dreamed big for Davidson and was never disappointed. I know he would be proud of this new facility and all that it means for the faculty, students and community. It is a joy for me to see his commitment to Davidson recognized on a space that will serve our college's future so well."
The center, made possible by a $45 million grant from The Duke Endowment, includes 20 teaching laboratories, 36 research laboratories, 49 faculty offices, five flexible classrooms and a stunning open forum space that seats up to 150 for presentations, meetings and performances. Wall served as a trustee of The Duke Endowment from 1994 to 1997.
"Our support is a testament to our strong belief in Davidson College, its leadership, faculty and staff, and student body," said Minor Shaw, chair of the endowment. "We are pleased that this center honors a colleague who contributed so much to The Duke Endowment Board through his wisdom, vision and quiet love of humanity."
Davidson secured an additional $29 million for the center thanks to generous support from alumni, parents, friends and foundations.
Wall, Davidson class of '59 and a Conway, S.C., native, was an active member of the student body and competitive scholar athlete, playing on both the football and baseball teams, while at Davidson. He was elected to Davidson's Board of Trustees as an alumni representative in 1976 and served that body continuously for more than 21 years. He was elected as the board's vice chair in 1985 and became chair in 1989, serving in that role until his untimely death in 1997. Wall also served the college on reunion committees, the Alumni Association Board, and as a member of the Board of Visitors, as well as by supporting the annual fund program. Wall was inducted posthumously into the Davidson College Hall of Fame in 2001.
In August 1959, Wall married Judith Atkins. Their three children, Judith Wall Guest '87, E. Craig Wall III '92 and Benjamin R. Wall II '98, are Davidson graduates, and Benjamin currently serves on the Board of Trustees.
Through decades of generous support, the Wall family is today a catalyst for academic and athletic excellence at Davidson. The May Ervin Wall Wresting Scholarship and the May Ervin Wall Women's Scholarship honor May Ervin Wall, the sister of the late E. Craig Wall Jr. Every year, students write to the Wall family, outlining their experiences and expressing their gratitude.
In addition, the E. Craig Wall Jr. Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities makes it possible for distinguished faculty from a range of fields to lead Davidson's famed Humanities Program, a series of courses that introduces students to the rich complexity of western cultural traditions.
"Davidson College had a deeply special meaning for my father," said Benjamin Wall '98. "He would be extremely proud of the Academic Neighborhood's bold vision, which will prepare Davidson's graduates to be successful leaders in a dynamic world that demands a broader and more rounded understanding and approach."
Following Davidson, Wall served in the U.S. Army before heading to Harvard Business School to earn his M.B.A. in 1962. He returned home to join Canal Industries, Inc., the company his father founded and the place where he dedicated his career. He became president and director of the company and grew it into a vastly successful corporation stretching across 11 states.
Wall also served as a trustee for the University of South Carolina Business Partnership, Coastal Carolina University, Coker College, Brookgreen Gardens, the Fund Established By Will of Nanaline H. Duke for Duke University, The Doris Duke Trust and as a member and director of the Angier B. Duke Memorial, Inc. He led many boards, including those for NationsBank, SCANA Corporation and Ruddick Corporation, and he gave of his time to support underserved populations through the United Way of South Carolina, the Conway Hospital Foundation and the United Way of Horry County, an organization he helped to found.
In October 2012, after long and thoughtful study, a campus plan for Davidson was set into motion-a strategic, comprehensive effort involving the construction and renovation of six academic buildings over 10 years. The defining vision of this plan, called the "Academic Neighborhood," intends to make Davidson's campus a physical expression of the multidisciplinary approach to understanding and problem-solving which is imperative for success in today's increasingly interconnected world.
The first component of the plan is the renovation of the Martin Science Building and the construction of the 149,000-square-foot E. Craig Wall Jr. Academic Center. The space will provide a premiere, collaborative space for the departments of chemistry, biology, psychology and environmental studies as well as gathering spaces for the arts, lectures and community building. It includes 20 teaching laboratories, 36 research laboratories, 49 faculty offices, five flexible classrooms and an open forum space with 145 seats for presentations, meetings and performances. In keeping with the college's commitment to sustainability, the building meets or exceeds LEED Silver specifications. The new space is deliberately placed to complement the travel patterns of students frequenting Chambers Building, E. H. Little Library, Sloan Music Center and other buildings nearby.
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.3 billion in grants. The endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.