McComas center dedicated
By Clara B. Cox
Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 10 - October 29, 1998
The emphasis placed on the quality of student life by the late James D. McComas, president of Virginia Tech from 1988-94, and his dream for a student-activities center at the university have resulted in what President Paul E. Torgersen calls "one of the most beautiful buildings on campus."
Torgersen's description came during dedication ceremonies for the James D. McComas Student Health and Fitness Center as dignitaries, friends of the university, and the family of the late president gathered on October 23 in one of the building's gymnasiums.
In his comments Torgersen pointed to McComas's aggressive efforts to recruit academically gifted undergraduates, to improve the quality of life for students, and to bolster student advising. "I think his legacy will be as a student's president," he predicted.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Adele McComas, widow of the late president; Jody Olsen, president of the Student Government Association; Ninth District Congressman Rick Boucher; Alumni Distinguished Professor P.A. Distler; and Landrum L. Cross, vice president for student affairs, who served as emcee.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Adele McComas said that her husband "mentioned in his inaugural comments his wishes for a facility like this. It is overwhelming to see this dream of his come true." She also noted her husband's "belief that the future of this university is its students."
Olsen, who spoke for the university's undergraduate students, called the new building "one of the best facilities in the entire state."
Boucher praised McComas for his open-door policy with students, his efforts to ensure construction of the student-activities facility, his focus on student needs, and his vision. Boucher said McComas recommended formation of the Commission on the Future of Southwest Virginia, was a moving force behind the Smart Road, took the lead in the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center project, and helped form the Blacksburg Electronic Village.
Following the remarks, daughter Cathleen McComas and son Patrick McComas joined the stage party in unveiling a plaque that will hang in the building.
The new 118,000-square-foot student-activities center, located at the intersection of Washington Avenue and West Campus Drive, opened to students this fall. It houses the Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center, the Charles W. Shiffert Health Center, and the Department of Recreational Sports. Its facilities include three gymnasium/volleyball courts, a cardio/weight training area, swimming pool, aerobic studios, suspended running track, locker rooms, and vending and lounge area.