$7M Rinker Welcome Center Readies for Grand Opening

Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center

Amy Schaefer says her old office in Griffith Hall had “character,” but she much prefers her new spot in the $7 million Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center.

“I love my space,” the Admissions receptionist said Thursday in the first-floor reception area of the new building. “This is perfect.”

Schaefer and others moved in this week as workers are putting the finishing touches on the building before the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. The public is invited to the event.

The three-story brick and glass Welcome Center houses offices such as Admissions and Enrollment Management, a “one-stop” service area with the Registrar, Bursar and Financial Planning, meeting rooms, and Career and Professional Development for current students and alumni.

Work began in the summer of 2015 on the 28,000-square-foot building, just off Woodland Boulevard and Minnesota Avenue. The building was designed to blend into the historic area of the campus and has earned a Green Globe Certification for its environmentally friendly design. It has a metal roof that lasts 50 years and reflects heat; recycled carpet; solar-powered lights in the parking lot; and landscaping with native plants that uses reclaimed water from the city of DeLand.

Matt Adair, Stetson director of project and construction management, said workers will finish washing windows Friday, touching up paint and preparing the landscaping. The college went to great lengths to ensure the design matched the surrounding buildings, such as carefully selecting a brick for the exterior that matches Elizabeth Hall, he said.

Adair said the Welcome Center offers nice views of campus from the second and third floors. Schaefer in the first-floor reception area said the third floor is like a “treehouse,” nestled among the oak trees.

“When I enter the campus from Minnesota, it’s like, Wow, they really did a great job with the building and the landscaping,” Adair said.

Rachel Vivino agreed. The Port Orange junior, who’s majoring in biochemistry, said Thursday she’s been curious to go inside the new building but wasn’t sure if it was open to students yet.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It does match the library with the brick and the glass.”

Funding for the building came from donors to the university’s comprehensive capital campaign, including: John and Sheila Rinker through the Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker Foundation; Christine E. Lynn, through the E.M. Lynn Foundation; Lee McGraw, through the Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation; Glen W. Hauenstein; and several other significant estate gifts.

– Cory Lancaster

-Nicole Melchionda contributed to this report.


Did You Know?

The Welcome Center is named for Marshall & Vera Lea Rinker, whose portrait hangs just inside the front doors.

Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker
Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker

According to Palm Beach Atlantic University, Marshall E. “Doc” Rinker Sr. founded Rinker Materials Corporation, which was known for its cement and concrete. Much of Florida is built on foundations poured by Rinker Materials, including Disney World and Epcot, military bases, and shopping malls.  With wife Vera Lea beside him, Rinker started with a $500 truck and built a multimillion-dollar business that employed more than 2,300 people when he sold it in 1988 for $515 million.

He decided to use a substantial portion of his money to improve the lives of others and said, “Money was only a thing to make the world better,” according to Palm Beach Atlantic University.

Vera Lea died in 1985, shortly before their 60th wedding anniversary. Marshall died in 1996.