Shenandoah University will soon own the Millwood Avenue property that includes South Campus Commons and Buzzins restaurant thanks to a generous donation by the Don Vaden family that is one of the largest real estate gifts in the university’s history.
Shenandoah has renamed South Campus Commons to Vaden Campus Commons to express its appreciation and gratitude for the gift as well as the Vaden family’s long-standing support of the university. SU’s Board of Trustees presented the Vaden family with a resolution of appreciation following the board’s vote to approve the real estate donation and related bargain sale on Thursday, Oct. 27, and Shenandoah celebrated the donation and renaming during a special event with students outside Buzzins later that afternoon.
The donation and related bargain sale will be finalized on Jan. 3, 2023.
Shenandoah has grown in enrollment, grown in reputation, and now we’re again growing our campus footprint. Here in Vaden, our students will have the opportunity to live, to dine, to have pets, to swim in a pool, to play basketball and to be very conveniently located right across the street from Shenandoah University. This is valued at a $5 million gift. It is both a $5 million gift and an investment in Shenandoah University, in the Winchester community, and in our students. I’m so deeply grateful, on behalf of all the faculty, staff, students and local community, to the Vaden family.”
Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., Shenandoah University President
Shenandoah students gathered to thank the Vaden family at the surprise event outside Buzzins, which featured a performance by the Shenandoah University Marching Band and remarks from Dr. Fitzsimmons, Board of Trustees Chair Mike Perry, and Student Government Association President Tigist Maxson, who is also a resident assistant in the newly renamed Vaden Campus Commons.
Don and Carol Vaden, their daughter Jody Vaden, granddaughter Amy Vaden, great-grandsons Angel and Giovani, and great-granddaughter Liliana Guzman, a first-year Shenandoah student, were present for the event.
The family was escorted around Buzzins, the former Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, following the celebration.
It’s just been an astounding day that Shenandoah has presented to us, and we’re very appreciative. It’s been just a great pleasure working with Shenandoah University and helping grow a great college. I drove through the university one day this week and just looked at the campus. What a beautiful campus Winchester has! A lot of people don’t realize what an asset Shenandoah University is to the city of Winchester. Dr. Fitzsimmons, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.”
Don Vaden, addressing the crowd during celebratory event
The Vaden family has been a Shenandoah partner for 50 years. Don and Carol (pictured right, seated) have been university donors and members of the President’s Leadership Circle, and the banquet hall on the Millwood Avenue property has hosted many SU events over the years.
In 2020, Don Vaden agreed to lease the property at 711 Millwood Ave. – long known as a premier motel and conference center in Winchester – to Shenandoah University, which had developed space needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lease allowed SU to establish the property as a college housing facility, which features rooms for residential students, the sit-down dining facility Buzzins, classroom spaces and an outdoor swimming pool.
SU’s need for the space persisted even after the height of the pandemic, as the university has nearly 1,200 residential students this school year, its highest total ever. Vaden Campus Commons is currently home to 117 residential students, and as the university continues to grow, it will eventually be able to house more than 200 students.
SCC has been a special place for me and many of my residents. It is quiet, peaceful, welcoming and a good home away from home. I came in as a transfer student and needed a place and space, and SCC gave me what I needed. On behalf of our campus community, we are excited to see what the future holds for this property and SU as a whole. Thank you, Vaden Family, for your generosity and for allowing SU to enhance the residential experience for students.”
Tigist Maxson, Shenandoah University’s Student Government Association president
Don Vaden had been associated with the former motel and restaurant on the property since 1965 and became sole owner of the property in 1991. The property most recently housed a motel and conference center and restaurant before it was leased to Shenandoah in 2020.
“The Vaden’s graciousness and generosity helped SU reopen in the fall of 2020 for in-person education when few other schools were even back in session,” Chairman Perry said, “and now their continued wish to see SU grow and thrive is the principal reason they’ve arranged for SU to receive the property permanently.”