Rita Anne Rollins BuildingCandler School of Theology has received a $15 million gift from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation of Atlanta that makes possible the construction of the second phase of the school’s new building program. In recognition of this gift, the first building—a 65,000-square-foot facility completed in 2008—will be named in memory of the late Rita Anne Rollins, the first grandchild of the foundation’s namesake. 

“This gift allows Candler to provide state-of-the-art library and teaching facilities that are critical to fulfilling our mission of preparing faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries in the world,” says Jan Love, dean of Candler School of Theology. “We are most grateful to the Rollins family for making it possible for us to continue enhancing theological education at Emory.”

In announcing the gift Jan. 19 at Candler’s spring semester convocation, Dean Love said the new building “will bring our front door back to where it rightfully belongs, directly across from the front door of Cannon Chapel,” the center of worship on campus. “We’re off and running,” she said.

“My grandparents, O. Wayne and Grace Rollins, believed in giving to living institutions that would affect people’s lives. Our family has strived to keep that vision alive by the Foundation’s continued interest in many areas at Emory University,” says Amy Rollins Kreisler, director of the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation. “We are very pleased to be a part of the continued growth of Candler School of Theology.”

Opened in 2008, the Rita Anne Rollins Building houses Candler School of Theology classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, community gathering spaces and Emory’s Center for Ethics. The Rollins Foundation gift will make it possible for Candler to move forward with the second phase of its building project.

Both buildings are designed for smart technology and LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. In keeping with Emory’s architectural style, the structures blend Italianate design with marble and stucco exteriors and clay tile roofs.

New building, south elevation
Architect's rendering of the main entry of the new Candler School of Theology building. The existing building, Phase I, (on the left) and Phase II (on the right) will be linked by a glass atrium.

Candler School of Theology is one of 13 seminaries of The United Methodist Church, with nearly 500 students from 46 denominations and 7,500 alumni worldwide. Since its founding in 1914, the school has been recognized as a premier institution for the preparation of leaders for Christian ministries. In any given year, 70 percent of Candler’s graduates go on to serve as pastors in local congregations, with the majority serving churches across Georgia and the Southeast.

O. Wayne Rollins, a native of north Georgia, was a self-made business entrepreneur and a steward of the “free enterprise system.” He and his brother John participated in numerous successful business ventures, including radio and television stations, cable television, oil field services, truck leasing, boat manufacturing, real estate and—most famously—the 1964 purchase of Orkin, Inc., the first documented leveraged buyout in U.S. business history. Following his death in 1991, his sons, Randall and Gary Rollins, have continued to build the Rollins companies.

Created in 1967, the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation continues the mission of now four generations of the Rollins family, which includes supporting religious institutions that are important to the family and that espouse the spiritual, moral and ethical principles of O. Wayne Rollins, in addition to supporting medical research and public health issues at colleges and universities. Early major gifts to Emory University—to Candler School of Theology, the O. Wayne Rollins Research Building and the Rollins School of Public Health—exemplify the family's commitment to serving humanity.

This latest gift from the Rollins Foundation is part of Campaign Emory, the university’s $1.6 billion fund-raising endeavor that combines private support and Emory’s people, places, and programs to make a powerful contribution to the world. As of Dec. 31, 2011, donors had generated $1.39 billion toward the goal.