A plan to create a hub for the arts, culture and civic engagement on the campus of Queens University of Charlotte has reached its initial goal of $20 million.
The money was raised through the combined efforts of six donors or foundations, with the final $4 million coming from two couples: Bob and Susan Salvin, and Sam and Carolyn McMahon.
As a result of the final donations, areas within the planned Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for Arts & Civic Engagement will be named to honor the two couples: The Carolyn G. McMahon Center for Music and the Bob & Susan Salvin Atrium.
“The outpouring of support we’ve received is a testament to the compelling nature of the project,” said Pamela Davies, president of Queens University.
Queens sought to raise the $20 million so it could transform an existing 50-year-old building into a state-of-the-art space for cultural and civic engagement. Half of the money was donated in 2017 by the Gambrell Foundation in honor of philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell. Another $4 million came from The Leon Levine Foundation, operated by Leon and Sandra Levine. The remaining $2 million came from the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation and Queens graduate Catherine Loevner and her husband David Loevner of Princeton, N.J.
University officials say the existing 63,000-square-foot building at the corner of Selwyn and Wellesley avenues is considered a “front porch” for the campus. It hosts hundreds of student and community events annually, which is why many in the community called for its expansion and renovation.
Sam and Carolyn McMahon are long-time supporters of Queens. Sam McMahon is the former president and CEO of Southeast Hotel Management and was among the first men to graduate from Queens in 1954 while it was a single-sex institution. He later served on the board of trustees from 1988-2004. His wife, Carolyn McMahon, is a former piano teacher who was past president of the board of advisers of the Friends of Music at Queens.
Bob Salvin is the founder and CEO of Salvin Dental Specialties Inc., a business he started from the trunk of his car in 1981. It has grown it into a global brand with distribution in 110 countries, earning him an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. His wife, Susan, is a retired pediatric nurse and former Nursing Director of the Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital.
Queens has more than 2,500 students in programs across the liberal arts and sciences, as well as the professional fields of business, communication, nursing, health and education.
Groundbreaking on the project will be late spring or early summer, and the Gambrell Center is set to be finished by fall 2019. Fundraising will continue for other expenses associated with the project, school officials said.