Roanoke College’s Leonhardt Cassullo Center for Art Aims to Create and Educate

Joanne Cassullo had made a $1 million gift to Roanoke College to establish the Center for Art named in her honor.

Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo ’78 is helping Roanoke College take art to a new level.

In October, President Michael C. Maxey announced that Cassullo had made a $1 million gift to Roanoke to establish the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Center for Art. The Leonhardt Cassullo Center will bring regional and global art to the College, and to Virginia, to create experiences that challenge, entertain and educate.

The center also will support internship opportunities throughout the United States for Roanoke students, and be a place where students and artists work in and respond to a global environment that is culturally diverse, technologically advanced and multifaceted.

Cassullo, who discovered her love for the arts as a student at Roanoke, already has significantly influenced the growth of art at the College. In 2004, she established the Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo Professorship in Art History, which allowed the College to offer a major in art history. She has made contributions to the College’s permanent collection and also has arranged for numerous artists to come to Roanoke to exhibit their work and present lectures.

In 2010, she oversaw the restoration of “The Solar Wind,” a sculpture at the Life Science Plaza created by American sculptor Alice Aycock.

Most recently, she has been instrumental in bringing two creative, public “horticultural” art projects to campus. One is the Tree of 40 Fruit, dedicated in October in honor of President Maxey’s 10th anniversary as College president. The second is the planting in June of the 14-foot-tall Rooney topiary at the Maroon Athletic Quad.

“Joanne invests financial resources, personal connections in the art world and much of her personal time into so many wonderful art projects on campus, and for that we are grateful,” Maxey said.

Cassullo is a member of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees and a former Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Museum Studies at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She is the founder, president, and director of the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation Inc., which is a private philanthropic foundation. She was awarded the Aperture Foundation Award in 2007 and the Fort Worth Country Day Falcon Star Award in 2014. Cassullo received the Roanoke College Medal, Roanoke’s highest honor for alumni, in 2008.

A recent exhibit in the Olin Galleries, which celebrated the College’s 175th anniversary, was “Legacy: Highlights from the Roanoke College Permanent Collection.” Cassullo funded a limited edition commemorative book for the Legacy exhibit, which highlights works in the Permanent Collection. Many of those items have been donated by Cassullo or purchased with a grant from the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Inc.