As a board certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Lawrence E. Roël could appear out of his element teaching middle school students enrolled in Discover Science Camp at the University of South Carolina Upstate on a recent summer day. But those who know Dr. Roël, easily recognize his combined passion for science, the Watershed Ecology Center, and USC Upstate as having squarely placed him in his comfort zone.
The students eagerly lined up for eye exams and learned the differences in near-sightedness and far-sightedness. Their enthusiasm and attention level hit an all-time level when Dr. Roël announced they would be dissecting cow eyeballs.
Roël demonstrated his passion last week by pledging financial support for the Watershed Ecology Center as part of USC Upstate’s $50 million, five-year capital campaign.
“I have a great respect for science and conservation and I believe we owe it to the younger generation to instill a sense of responsibility for our environment,” said Roël. “The Watershed Ecology Center places special emphasis on conservation and education, reaching more than 15,000 school children each year.”
The Watershed Ecology Center’s mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate sound scientific information on the ecology of the region. Special emphasis is placed on watershed conservation, education, water quality and the study of organisms living in the area encompassed by a watershed. The Center serves as a repository for regional ecological information, providing education and research assistance to individuals, communities, local schools and governmental organizations. The WEC is also dedicated to providing research opportunities for the faculty and students at the University of South Carolina Upstate and other regional institutions.
“Dr. Roël has a passion for science education as he demonstrated working with young people discussing eyes and vision plus his support of the Watershed Ecology Center’s education programs,” said Dr. Jack Turner, director of the Watershed Ecology Center. “The Center is a privately funded educational outreach program housed at USC Upstate whose mission to bring hands-on science education into classrooms and it is through the support of people like people like Dr. Roël and other organization that we are able to do this.”
This is not Roël’s first generous gift to USC Upstate. He provided the lead gift to establish the Dr. Lawrence E. Roël Garden Pavilion, which is nestled in the Susan Jacobs Arboretum and allows students to enjoy outdoor classes, and the entire campus community to gather for activities such as picnics, campus events, and reunions.
USC Upstate’s $50 million capital campaign, Carolina’s Promise: Expanding Excellence in the Upstate, is part of a University of South Carolina system-wide fund raising campaign to raise $1 billion by 2015. The priorities of the USC Upstate campaign are student support through scholarships, faculty professorships, university/community programs, and capital improvements.