Teri McCandless ’81 and Ray S. Jr. ’81 Bishop P'10
“Students get excited about a new student center, and prospective students and their families that are coming on campus know that it'll be there.”
The steady dedication of a lifetime to Moravian and its students is precisely what Teri McCandless Bishop and Ray Bishop have been, and will be, doing. Ray and Teri were both first-generation college students. They met at the university, married, became owners of Bishop Photo and Team Imaging in 1983, and established the Bishop Family Scholarship Fund in 2011. Since then, 18 students have benefited from their generosity.
In 2022, Teri and Ray decided to revise the fund to prioritize undergraduate students who are active, retired, or veterans of law enforcement or the military or whose parents or guardians meet this distinction. “Because, typically, if your father [or mother] is a police officer, a firefighter, or served in the military, you’re going to respect law and order and not try to tear it down. So that was the reason for making the change,” says Ray.
The Bishops are well aware of the Lighting the Way campaign priority to provide critical assistance to students through scholarships and endowments. Ray serves as a trustee and is a member of the campaign committee. Teri is a former alumni board member. Together, they wanted to honor those who paved the way for them by starting a fund to help others needing financial aid.
“Teri and I are here today because anything is possible,” says Ray. They are passionate about recognizing and supporting those who have served and sacrificed for the country and its communities, “which is one of the reasons why we included first responders,” Ray adds.
Pride in our nation and armed forces manifests in many ways, especially obvious to recent generations over the past four years. The Bishops would like to influence and support how that pride is instilled in, and celebrated by, Moravian students.
To that end, they are funding the Veterans’ Center Lounge as part of the Haupert Union Building (HUB) renovation, hoping to inspire better Americans and shine a light on how lucky students are to be citizens of this country and have access to a Moravian education.
“One of the reasons I wanted to sponsor this space is because I want to make sure that there was some patriotic influence. To make sure that the student body sees something patriotic every day when they pass by,” Ray says. “The space will have a permanent American flag there. Not something that’s just hung on the wall or a pole, but something permanent in the structure that cannot be removed.”
The university made a commitment to veterans many years ago. Marilyn Kelly-Cavotta, a retired Army medic frequently recognized for her support of veterans, is the executive director of the Veteran & Military Services office, which was staffed in June 2019 to assist students who are veterans, children of veterans, or on active duty. That effort was rewarded by U.S. News & World Report ranking Moravian forty-third in the nation for best colleges for veterans for their participation in federal initiatives that help veterans and active-duty service members pay for their degrees.
Post 9/11, the federal government made the GI Bill transferable to the children of active-duty veterans under certain conditions. This, along with transitioning veterans, requires Kelly-Cavotta to help students navigate their benefits and the classroom.
“When [veterans] come to a college campus, it’s not always easy for them to understand the structure and hierarchy. In the military, they are trained to respect whoever their instructor is, but in this environment, they’re allowed to debate and to use critical thinking,” said Kelly-Cavotta.
The current campus space dedicated for veterans occupies two separate sections of the library. One half has seats where the Student Veteran Association meets, and the other half serves as a study space with a desktop and lots of outlets. Once the HUB is renovated, the new Veterans Center Lounge will be larger and bring all services together in one safe space (a “bunker,” according to Kelly-Cavotta). It will have a fridge and a microwave and will be situated immediately next to a lounge for commuter students.
“Because a lot of our student veterans are commuters, it will give them a place where they can bring their lunch rather than having to go out and look for places to eat,” Kelly-Cavotta says. “There is a computer loaded with security certificates where students can use their military ID to access government websites. This allows the ROTC and National Guard/Reservist students to request their tuition assistance.”
“One of the reasons I wanted to sponsor this space is because I want to make sure that there was some patriotic influence. To make sure that the student body sees something patriotic every day when they pass by. The space will have a permanent American flag there. Not something that’s just hung on the wall or a pole, but something permanent in the structure that cannot be removed.”
While many colleges and universities nationwide are struggling financially and possibly closing, Teri and Ray feel that building a new building like the HUB instills pride and confidence that the university is on solid footing. Honoring those who gave Americans their freedoms is exceptionally important to the Bishops, since a vibrant student center is a visible sign of the university’s fiscal health and commitment to the future.
“Students get excited about a new student center, and prospective students and their families that are coming on campus know that it'll be there,” Ray says.
With the Bishops’ help spotlighting this audience, the university can only become more competitive and climb in the rankings. Kelly-Cavotta has definite plans for how future programming can meet demand.
“My goal is to have a program using guest speakers to talk about their experiences transitioning and to have experts from various veteran organizations offer guidance on, say, small business entrepreneurship,” says Kelly-Cavotta. “You kind of lose that sense of purpose you had in the military when you get out. I want to be able to help people in their journey to finding their purpose as a civilian.”