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Christiansburg Institute fund drive under way

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 29 - April 20, 1995

Residents in the Roanoke and New River Valleys and Virginia Tech faculty members have joined forces to host a fundraising dinner to kick off a fund drive to save and restore the Christiansburg Institute--the African-American trade school that served the area for 100 years.

The goal of the project, writes Lucinda H. Roy, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and program committee co-chair for the Christiansburg Institute Project, is to save the Christiansburg Institute--an historic center of learning--and turn it into an African American learning center.

Roy continues: "The Christiansburg Institute will become an educational site for our children--a place where all races can meet to share in the richness of culture. Art galleries, computer technology, distance education, multimedia, presentations, seminars and alumni guest speakers who can encourage students to succeed against the odds--all of these elements will come together in the new facility."

On Friday, April 21, a banquet will be held in Owens Hall, beginning at 6 p.m. The $50-a-plate dinner will include welcoming remarks from university President Paul Torgersen, with music provided by Joe Kennedy and his 20-piece jazz orchestra.

The Christiansburg Institute was opened in 1866 and closed 100 years later. It was the premiere African-American technical school in Southwest Virginia, and thousands of African-Americans graduated from the institute with skills ranging from barbering to library science. While the original campus had 14 buildings, including a hospital, only one building remains.

Charles Steger, vice president for development and university relations, said the Virginia Tech Foundation has opened an account to hold funds for the Christiansburg Institute.

But it will be up to the community and the institute's alumni to raise the money necessary to make the project a reality.

In addition to the banquet, on Saturday, April 22, an issues forum will be held from 8 a.m. to noon in Squires Colonial Hall. The keynote address will be delivered by Margaret Washington Clifford, granddaughter of Booker T. Washington. The noted African-American educator was the school's advisor.

The forum will include such topics as Linking With Africa, Students at Risk in Higher Education, Oral Histories, Racism and Affirmative Action, and African Americans and Sports.

From noon until 3 p.m., hourly shuttle buses will take guests to the institute, which is located on U.S. 460 near the Christiansburg High School.

From 4 to 6 p.m., a reception will be held in the Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. The Ujima African American Dance Theater will perform.

Tickets for the dinner and issue forum may be purchased by calling 1-5182.