When Walter Gross III—longtime Berea friend, executive at G&J Pepsi, and amateur paleontologist—heard that a new science building on Berea’s campus would create space for studies in geology and archeology, his curiosity was piqued. After learning more about the project, he committed to supporting the new building.
“I like to dig dinosaur bones and collect fossils, and I was happy to hear that they were going to add that back into the curriculum,” Walter said.
At the same time, he compliments the administration for being thoughtful about adding infrastructure on campus.
“Berea College doesn’t just clutter the campus with new buildings all the time,” Walter said. “I think Berea does so much with so little—you don’t need another 20 buildings on your campus to be the success that you’ve been.”
Walter says it’s the people at Berea who create a successful academic experience, from the administration and professors to the students, who are willing to learn and work hard. He has met alumni who are extremely successful in their fields, and he credits much of that to the labor program at Berea.
“When they go out into the real world, they’re not shy about taking on any job and becoming a meaningful contributor to society and to businesses,” he said.
In addition to special projects, Walter and his wife, Mary Emily, give to Berea to provide tuition scholarships. They also enjoy shopping on campus, where they can buy unique items handcrafted by students—many of which are given as birthday and Christmas gifts to their family and friends. Walter knows personally just how special these gifts can be.
He reminisces, “My grandfather used to donate to Berea College. He gave me a wooden game from Berea College when I was about nine years old, and I still have it today.”
His father also supported Berea, and Walter recalls a visit that has stuck with him since he was a young adult.
“One time I was home from college, and somebody came to the front door at Christmas time,” he said. “I was standing there with my father, and the person said, ‘We just wanted to stop by and thank you for your contribution to Berea.’ And I was so impressed that a college would go to that length to thank somebody for their contribution, to personally come to the house and shake his hand and say ‘thank you.’ That really stuck with me—the commitment that Berea has to its donors.”