The Statement That Inspired It All
For several decades, Dr. Joe Rinard and his late wife, Alice, ’54 MA ’63, have shown incredible philanthropic support to our university. Their generous acts of giving were inspired by a number of influences, including one of Joe’s Ball State professors, Dr. Robert H. Cooper.
After class one afternoon, Dr. Cooper, a biology professor and the Cooper Science Building namesake, stopped Joe. He told him, “Joe, you know, this University is supported by a lot more than what you pay in tuition. This institution is supported by the state and people giving money.” This insight eventually set in motion a lifetime of giving for Joe and Alice Rinard, as Joe had made it his goal to be a philanthropic partner to Ball State and support many generations of Cardinals.
The Rinard Orchid Greenhouse
Formally known as The Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse, the site is home to the largest collegiate collection of orchids in the United States. The greenhouse began undergoing a major expansion in Spring 2021, which is slated to finish in the 2021-2022 academic year.
While Joe and Alice have also donated to the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology over the years, Joe says his true passion lies with the greenhouse. The Rinards not only contributed to the initial construction, but also recently gifted real estate, which is helping to fund the current expansion.
“Because I lived so far away from it, I chose to liquidate a 40-acre farm that had been in the family since 1933,” said Rinard. After confirming and making his philanthropic intentions clear to his family, the property became a cornerstone to the expansion plans.
A Legacy of Lifelong Learning
Joe’s love for agriculture stems from his childhood and family heritage. When he was young, he learned about planting, harvesting, and providing food for his table through sweat and passion for the land. This meaningful connection to land and its cultivation, combined with his desire to honor Alice’s memory, motivated him to help fund the greenhouse’s construction.
All of the philanthropic gifts made by Joe and Alice throughout the years have been rooted their desire to create more educational opportunities for students. They have given both time and money to the institutions they love most: Indiana, Ball State, and their high schools. “Ball State provided a place for me to excel academically and gain the knowledge I needed to ultimately be accepted to the Indiana University School of Dentistry,” Rinard said.
To Joe, any contribution to Ball State is a valuable investment.
“The greenhouse allows me to look beyond myself,” said Rinard. “I’m doing something worthwhile beyond my own situation, and it’s something that other people can also be part of.”
The care of the more than 2,000 orchids, and general oversight of the greenhouse, are the responsibilities of Cheryl LeBlanc, curator of Rinard Orchid Greenhouse. “Cheryl is an outstanding human being, and she has the great ability to do this, that, and the other. Ball State and the Rinard Orchid Greenshouse are fortunate to have passionate people like her,” Rinard said.
The Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse is open to the public six days a week. They hold weekly programs, special holiday events, and an annual spring plant sale. For more information and photos of the expansive orchid collection, visit their website; on Facebook at Rinard Orchid Greenhouse; or on Instagram @bsurogh.