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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Bush to keynote excellence forum

By Catherine Doss

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 28 - April 17, 1997

Former President George Bush will be the keynote speaker at the Virginia Forum for Excellence to be held in Richmond April 22. Virginia Tech is one of several sponsors of the annual event, which is in its 14th year.

The forum is the largest productivity-and-quality event in the state, drawing nearly 1,000 participants representing businesses, school systems, and local governments. Its purpose is threefold: (1) to promote continuous-quality-improvement efforts throughout the year among businesses and organizations across the state; (2) to offer a forum where participants can share ideas and strategies and learn from top quality experts from across the country; and (3) to recognize and celebrate the best in the commonwealth through the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award of Virginia (SPQA).

This year, 18 businesses, organizations, and municipalities from across the state will receive Senate Productivity and Quality Awards during a luncheon in which Senators John Warner and Charles Robb will present the honors. Recipients are selected by a 25-member SPQA Board whose members collectively represent more than 250 years of quality and productivity experience. Selection is based on a written application and on-site visits that evaluate quality and productivity results.

The SPQA process began in 1982 after the United States Senate passed a resolution establishing an award to foster awareness of the need for productivity improvement and to recognize organizations at the state level that demonstrate such improvements.

"Virginia has the distinction of having the longest continuously running award process in the country," said Jyl Smithson in Tech's Division of Continuing Education, which administers the award process. "Ours has been used as a benchmarking example for other states throughout the nation."

Virginia Tech has been instrumental in organizing and administering the award process since its inception. All SPQA applications are housed at the Performance Center in Tech's Corporate Research Center.

"Through the outstanding leadership of several faculty members in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, this award continues to grow," Smithson said.

In addition to Bush, this year's forum will include presentations by Kevin Freiberg, co-author of Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success; Betsy Sanders, author of Fabled Service; and Debbi Fields, founder and chairperson of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

The forum is presented by the quality Council of Greater Richmond and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce. In addition to Virginia Tech, sponsors include the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the American Society for Quality Control.

For more information about the Virginia Forum for Excellence or the Senate Productivity and Quality Award, contact Smithson at 1-3144 or e-mail her at jylsr@vt.edu..