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Donation to School of Horticulture Announced

August 31, 2021 by Cheri Anderson-Hucks | SCC | 2021news

Roel Hicks Bridge rendering
Rendering of the bridge, located in the Horticulture gardens on the Giles Campus.

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Spartanburg Community College horticulture students now have an opportunity to participate in a multi-year project focusing on ecology and environmental stewardship thanks to a generous gift to the SCC Foundation and the college's School of Horticulture from retired local ophthalmologist Dr. Lawrence Roël and his wife, Kathryn Hicks, who are funding the construction of a new bridge over a stream on the Giles Campus.

The donation funds the building and installation of a 12-ft. x 55-ft. bridge which will safely connect horticulture gardens on either side of a creek while accentuating the campus’s natural beauty and providing experiential learning opportunities to SCC’s horticulture students who care for the campus gardens and arboretum.

“This generous donation from Larry Roël and Katie Hicks will allow us to safely manage property on both sides of the creek,” explained Jason Bagwell, chair of SCC’s horticulture department. “The bridge will not only make the stream crossing safer but will also enhance the educational value of our program and the beauty of the Giles Campus.”

The bridge is part of a larger effort to stabilize the campus stream, which headwaters Fairforest Creek, and protect the surrounding environment and natural habitats. “One of the critical things we teach our students is the importance of environmental sustainability,” added Jay Moore, horticulture instructor. “We need to take care of our waterways and think about the people that are downstream from us and how our actions affect them. This donation opens up a multi-year project to work with students on ecology and environmental stewardship.” Horticulture students will actively participate in the beautification and creek stabilization efforts once construction of the bridge is complete.

Roël, a retired ophthalmologist, and Hicks, owner of The Oakland House in Spartanburg, enjoy contributing to projects that involve environmental beautification and provide areas of contemplation and reflection that support learning.

“Katie and I are delighted to be part of this stream stabilization and water ecology project at Spartanburg Community College,” Roël said. “We are both very connected to students and believe that they should have access to areas of peaceful contemplation to reflect on their studies. We are excited that the project will enable current and future generations of students to enjoy the beauty of the natural settings on campus and encourage future careers in landscape design and nature conservation.”

A native of Long Island, New York, Roël moved to Spartanburg in 1989 and established Eastside and Westside Eye Centers. In addition to owning the Oakland House, Hicks is also a professor emerita of art and art history at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

SCC’s School of Horticulture will celebrate the 50 anniversary of the program at the annual Arboretum Adventures event planned for Thursday, September 23 at the Giles Campus. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held prior to event recognizing the Roël’s generous gift. For more information about the event and to purchase tickets please visit,

Photos are available for download via Flickr: