Randolph-Macon College celebrated the official dedication of its newest building, Duke Hall, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon. The 45,000-square-foot, three-story building will provide a transformative new home for the College’s physician assistant (PA) studies program and athletics teams.
“The ongoing transformation of campus has been inspirational to watch,” Board of Trustees Chair Sue Schick ’84 said, addressing the crowd gathered for the ceremony. “And we’re excited to come together now to celebrate another remarkable addition to this special campus.”
“This building seems meant to be here, supporting the educational experience of this special place through our athletic and academic programs,” added R. Earl Johnson ’66, Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees. “I fully expect that Duke Hall will become an iconic presence on campus, holding special memories for generations of students to come.”
The third floor of Duke Hall is dedicated to RMC’s PA program, the College’s first academic program at the graduate level, which welcomed its first cohort of students on Jan. 3, 2023. The state-of-the-art space features a skills lab, exam rooms, a student lounge and café, group meeting rooms, and offices.
The 24-month PA curriculum combines fully modern health science training with infusions of liberal arts and community service. PAs are important members of our healthcare systems, trained to deliver patient-centered, high-quality care to individuals of all ages and every background.
Beyond a space tailor-made for the success of the PA program, Duke Hall also offers three state-of-the-art classrooms for general use, which are already in high demand from RMC’s faculty and students.
“The placement of these classrooms alongside the Physician Assistant program reflects our commitment to integrating that program as fully as we can, even as it expands the boundaries of the college’s academics,” Provost Alisa J. Rosenthal said.
Situated on the west side of Day Field and attached to new stands, Duke Hall provides a top-notch facility to match the excellence Yellow Jacket student-athletes exhibit on and off the field of competition. The building contains new locker rooms for football, baseball, women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, field hockey and softball in addition to a new training room, a new press box, event space, meeting rooms, and offices.
“This is a community that is very passionate and proud of their school, our student-athlete successes, and creating first-class experiences for our players, coaches, and fans,” Director of Athletics Jeff Burns said. “Duke Hall is a testament to that passion and a shining example of what can be done when great leadership and vision combine with incredible generosity.”
Harold S. Duke, the building’s namesake, was a lifelong resident of Ashland and an avid supporter of the Yellow Jackets. He graduated from Benedictine High School in Richmond and attended Randolph-Macon College briefly before he left school to serve in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. When he returned home to Ashland, Mr. Duke took over his family’s business, Duke’s Market, a community staple, which he owned and operated from 1963 until his retirement in 2001.
Duke maintained a passion for his hometown college and was a fixture in the stands at home football and basketball games. In 2013, he was named an Honorary Alumnus, celebrating his lifelong commitment to Randolph-Macon athletics. Duke passed away in 2017 and, in his passing, solidified an extraordinary legacy at Randolph-Macon, gifting the majority of his estate to the College. In gratitude for his transformative generosity, Randolph-Macon is proud to bestow the name Duke Hall in his honor.
RMC President Robert R. Lindgren expressed gratitude for the tremendous impact and generosity of the donors who made the construction of Duke Hall a possibility, giving special thanks to the extraordinary contributions of Macon F. Brock, Jr. ’64 and his family, Thomas H. Birdsong III ’49, John P. Frazee, Jr. ’66 and his family, Ann Allen, R. Geoffrey Neville, Jr., Frank H. Robinson, Jr. ’54, Stuart and Frank E. “Pepper” Laughon, Jr. ’59, Linwood ’84 and Mary Weatherholtz Staub ’86, and especially Harold Duke.
“It will be apparent to all those who enter Duke Hall that a myriad of individuals and groups and teams came before, and they came before to lay the foundation of what lies within,” Lindgren said. “And as with all our buildings, those whose generosity has made them possible also represent a gigantic breadth of interests and connections, but all with a common thread of supporting RMC and our students.”
Linwood Staub, Chair of the Advancement Committee on the Board of Trustees, recognized two groups of former RMC student-athletes that came together in their generosity: former golfers and football players of Coach Ted Keller ’53, who named the football locker room in his honor, and members of the 1984 football team, who named the football suite in honor of their Old Dominion Athletic Conference triumphs.
“I’m so proud to be able to boast that our outstanding facilities are among the best in the ODAC; I think the best in the country,” Staub said. “It demonstrates how deeply invested our alumni and the Yellow Jacket fans are to the success of our students and our student-athletes.”
Before officially dedicating Duke Hall, President Lindgren reflected on the importance of such a remarkable facility to the mission of the College.
“Duke Hall is just so quintessentially Randolph-Macon. It is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, just like a Randolph-Macon education,” Lindgren said. “For each of our students have their own journey—one culminating in their own unique educational experience, while preparing them to be productive citizens and fulfilled individuals.”