Tech plates popularBy Matthew Winston
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 19 - February 1, 1996
Deion Sanders and Michael Jordan are not the only high-profile sports powerhouses collecting a few extra dollars these days. Virginia Tech is also a major player in generating revenue to put in students' pockets for a rainy day.
The university is doing a little extra to create some extra money for academic scholarships.
Virginia Tech has been participating in the CollegePlate program of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for more than five years. Tech's participation in the program has generated more than $115,000 in academic scholarships for Virginia Tech students.
Tech has sold more license plates bearing the university's logo than any other participating school in the state, including in-state rivals James Madison University and the University of Virginia, and out-of-state participants, Penn State University and Georgetown University. Tech has sold and renewed more than 3,000 plates .
"I see Virginia Tech plates everywhere," said Debbie Day Shelton, associate director of Virginia Tech's Alumni Association. "Most of them are personalized and quite creative. I think our success reflects the high level of spirit and support our alumni and students show toward this university."
Tech's high number of plates sales reflects a large base of alumni and fans of the university's academic and athletic success. As the cycle of fans becoming Virginia Tech students who become alumni who go on to become parents of Virginia Tech students continues to spin, the number of plates, and more importantly, the number of scholarships will continue to grow at the university.
Larry Hincker, director of University Relations, says that as more people learn of the accomplishments of Virginia Tech's programs they grow to have an interest in the university as a whole. "More and more people are becoming aware of our quality academic and research programs on campus. They are also well aware of the continued success of our athletic department with two very successful football seasons and an N.I.T. basketball championship."
"Our alumni and student base is so large anyway," Shelton said. "These people have a lot of spirit and absolutely love Virginia Tech. It's no surprise that they want to conspicuously display their pride for this university everywhere they go, particularly on the road."
After eclipsing the $100,000 revenue mark, Virginia Tech introduced a second plate design in the Virginia program.
The new design encompasses aspects of the university's logo and identity campaign, as well as a few design improvement suggestions from alumni and students.
The new design places the university shield off to the left-hand side of the plate and is displayed in Hokie orange and maroon. "Go Hokies" is written across the bottom of the plate in maroon so that drivers passing by will have no trouble identifying which school is dominating the roadways of Virginia.
"We had a lot of people ask about moving the logo on the original plate from the middle off to one side or the other," said Hincker. "People wanted to be able to personalize their plates a little more and the seal in the middle of the plate prohibited that to some extent."
However, many ingenious Hokie fans were able to use the university seal to their advantage. Several plates used the seal as the letter "O", thus allowing car owners to spell the word "HoKIE" on their plates.
Hokie fans from all over the state now display their Tech plates. Parents are giving them as gifts to their kids for graduation or rewards for making the dean's list. Alumni give them to each other as birthday and winter holiday gifts. President Paul Torgersen and Provost Peggy Meszaros display Virginia Tech license plates on their cars. "The new plates are most attractive," Torgersen said. "I believe our alumni and students are going to be pleased with this new design."
Torgersen stresses the importance of the license-plate program in terms of the benefits provided students. "Of course the license-plate program is a marketing opportunity for the university," Torgersen said. "People associated with Virginia Tech can show Tech pride when they pull into parking lots of shopping malls or their offices or when they are out for a Sunday drive or on their way to a home football game. But the real value of this program is the ability to funnel the funds from this project directly back into scholarship funds for our students."
Both the new design and the original plate are now available in the state of Virginia. Virginia Tech license plates cost $25 (+$10 for personalized plates) in addition to the registration fee. Sixty percent of the cost of each plate purchased or renewed is returned to the university's general scholarship fund.
Virginia Tech is also involved in license-plate programs in four other states. Alumni associations in Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Delaware each receive funds from special Virginia Tech plates in their respective states. The proceeds are used for scholarships for Virginia Tech students.
For more information, call the Office of University Relations at 1-5396, your local alumni association, or the Department of Motor Vehicles.