“What it Means to Give Back” UNH Renames Henry C. Lee Building in Honor of John and Leona Gehring

Liana Teixeira

When students walk by John and Leona Gehring Hall, President Kaplan said, “they will know what it means to give back.

Photo Provided by Josh Richards
Photo Provided by Josh Richards

Sept. 20 at 11:30 a.m. marked the dedication ceremony of John and Leona Gehring Hall. Formerly known as the Henry C. Lee building, Gehring Hall is now the new home to the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.

Students, faculty, staff and administration gathered in the Maxcy Quad as the UNH Marching Band entertained the large crowd with a selection of songs.

“It’s really great to see our alumni give back to the university and benefiting future generations who will walk through the halls of UNH,” said Undergraduate Student Government Association President Zani Imetovski.

Junior criminal justice majors Jenna Henning and Ali Shapiro were thankful as well.

“If someone is able to donate that much, we should definitely name something after them like a building,” Shapiro said.

“It’s pretty great that someone could donate that much,” Henning added.

Kaplan opened the ceremony by reading a letter from Dr. Henry Lee, thanking the Gehrings for their gracious donation to the program.

The couple’s generous gift establishes the John R. and Leona M. Gehring Endowed Scholarship Fund for College of Business students and the John R. Gehring Endowed Professorship in Business Administration. John R. and Leona M. Gehring Endowed Forensic Research and Training Advancement Fund at the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science.

The Gehrings’ support will make it possible for even more students to pursue their education at the university.

Dean of the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Mario T. Gaboury thanked the Gehrings for their outstanding contribution to the institution.

“You really can’t overstate the importance of the Henry Lee Institute of Forensic Science here at the University of New Haven, as well as the impact that this institution has had on our world,” Gaboury said.

New research involving high pressure DNA can be found within the institution; UNH is also the only college in the nation that uses the IBIS firearms system.

This year, the addition of a new area of study, wildlife forensics, advances the field for forensics even further.

“This institution has contributed to bringing wrongdoers to justice, as well as freeing those wrongly convicted,” Gaboury added.

Junior accounting major Noumso Kaba also expressed her thanks to the Gehring family for their contribution to the College of Business by describing her own scholarship needs.

“The scholarship that I received has helped lighten my financial burden and has allowed me to focus on my studies and tutor in the CLR,” she said.

The one thing she loved about the program was the fact that many professors have experienced working in the business world, much like John and Leona Gehring.

A graduate of UNH, John Gehring ‘52 began his venture into the business world by delivering groceries for his parents’ store and selling hotdogs at baseball games.

It was not long before launched his career in sales throughout Connecticut. He became the first Connecticut distributor of the electronic calculator.

Even while working full time, Gehring was able to pursue his A.S. degree in business administration from UNH. He then opened Gehring Office Equipment, Lincolnwood organ and Piano Center after graduation. For five decades, Gehring ran the businesses alongside his wife Leona.

To honor the Gehrings for their gift, Kaplan awarded John Gehring with an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration.

“My two great joys at this institution are seeing what we can do for our students, and seeing what we can do for our donors,” Kaplan said to the Gehrings. “When students on this campus go into this wonderful facility to do research that could possibly save lives…the lives they save might not have been saved without your incredible generosity.”

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of John and Leona Gehring’s names on the side of the Lee Institute.

Other notable attendees at the ceremony included Board of Governors Chair Philip H. Bartels and member Mary J. Barneby, and UNH Distinguished Fellow in Public Service and fomer U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays.