USC Upstate Announces Gift To Construct The Lawrence E. Roël Garden Pavilion

December 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

What student doesn’t jump at the chance to go to class when it’s held outdoors on a sunny afternoon?

University of South Carolina Upstate students will soon be able to enjoy outdoor classes, and the entire campus community will be able to gather for activities such as picnics, campus events, and reunions at the Dr. Lawrence E. Roël Garden Pavilion nestled in the Susan Jacobs Arboretum.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring students to the study of the natural sciences in a beautiful outdoor classroom, and to provide a facility from which the whole community can benefit.  We’re very excited to join with the university in this endeavor,” says Dr. Roël, a board certified ophthalmologist with practices on Spartanburg’s Eastside and Westside, who, together with his wife, P. Kathryn “Katie” Hicks, professor emeritus of art, are long-time supporters of the University.

Thanks to Dr. Roël’s generous donation, the structure will begin taking shape in January 2010 and will complement the arboretum’s natural setting and provide numerous opportunities for learning and fellowship. The 1,000 square foot structure will be built in rustic Shaker style, with cedar posts, tongue and groove wood ceiling, stacked stone walls, fireplace, and rustic beams overhead.

Open on three sides, the pavilion’s center will provide enough seating for 30 and overhead fans for hot days. Future plans include an LCD screen mounted in a cabinet above the fireplace where data can be projected from a computer or DVD player. The low stone walls bordering the edge will also serve as additional seating. If needed, theatre seating can be brought in, accommodating up to 150 people. Two handicapped accessible bathrooms and a storage closet round out the list of amenities.

Although the Roël Pavilion will serve the campus as an outdoor classroom during the day, opportunities for its use extend far past traditional daytime events to dinners and intimate outdoor receptions. The fireplace will warm the space and provide ambiance, as decorative copper hanging lanterns will lend an inviting evening glow.

The setting for the Roël Pavilion, near the western end of the arboretum across from the P. Kathryn Hicks Visual Arts Building and adjacent to the meandering creek that winds its way through the arboretum’s 12 acres, is one that biology professor Jack Turner looks forward to utilizing.

“This facility has been a vision of mine for several years and having people like Larry Roël willing to help make this vision come true is wonderful,” says Turner, director of the Watershed Ecology Center. “It will certainly be used by the center for teaching young people about the wonders of outdoors.”

“The Roël Pavilion represents a combination of Dr. Roël’s appreciation of the natural sciences, his passion for the teaching of sciences, and his commitment to the university’s growth,” says USC Upstate Chancellor John Stockwell, “and the University is grateful for his generous support.”

For further information about the Roël Pavilion or the Susan Jacobs Arboretum, contact Bea Walters Smith, Director of Development and Foundation Scholarships, at (864) 503-5235 or