University of South Alabama Professor of Surgery Dr. Charles Bernard Rodning and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Rodning, have established a new $200,000 endowment fund to support the art gallery at the USA Main Library. The income generated by the principal of the gift will be used for underwriting exhibitions, acquisitions, programs, and improvements. The couple also gave an additional $10,000 for immediate support of the USA Main Library Art Gallery.
In honor of the gift, the space on the third floor of the library is now named the Mary Elizabeth and Charles Bernard Rodning Gallery of Art.
The Rodnings have been residents of Mobile County for decades. In his long and distinguished career at USA, Dr. Rodning has served as professor in the department of surgery, as well as president of the Medical Society/County of Mobile and the Alabama Chapter/American College of Surgeons. Dr. Rodning has authored several collections of poetry, paintings, and photographs; contributed to many literary anthologies; and garnered numerous awards worldwide for his artistic endeavors.
Mrs. Rodning, an artist extraordinare, has served as a catalyst for and educator of the arts among numerous artistic and faith-based organizations. She has received numerous awards for her works of art, including those from the Mobile Art Association.
The Rodnings were immersed in the Japanese culture during a military assignment in Okinawa, Japan. That experience cultivated a passion for Asian culture and art that left an indelible mark on their lives. Mrs. Rodning is an accomplished artist, specializing in sumi-e ink brush painting and origami. Dr. Rodning developed a flair for the Japanese forms of poetry, haiku and senryu.
The ethos of the Rodning family is that of “servant leadership – a great respect for education, a vigorous work ethic, a striving for excellence, a strong sense of community, and benevolence.” They gave their gift to USA in that spirit.
USA Vice-President for Development and Alumni Relations Dr. Joseph F. Busta Jr. said, “The generous gift of Dr. and Mrs. Rodning reflects their deep and abiding commitment to the University of South Alabama. Their philanthropic legacy at USA is truly significant.”
Dean of University Libraries Dr. Richard J. Wood said the interest from the endowment, as well as their cash gift, will be used to enhance the gallery and attract future exhibitions and displays. “For example,” Wood said, “the funds will be used to draw-in artists and art exhibitions from other states and to sponsor juried shows.”
Dr. and Mrs. Rodning said, “The Rodning family is privileged and honored to contribute to the mission and vision of the University of South Alabama Library --- a vital and robust repository of and venue for our intellectual, philosophical, aesthetic, and artistic heritage and culture. Hic habitat felicitas, which is Latin for “in this place joy.”