Virginia Tech Magazine

Volume 14, Number 2
Winter 1992


House approves funding for biotech center

The U.S. House of Representatives has appropriated more than $1 million for construction of the agricultural biotechnology center at Virginia Tech. Rep. Rick Boucher, who requested the funding, said the legislation is being considered by the Senate, where approval is expected. The university's biotechnology research is currently being conducted by various departments spread throughout campus. Planning monies were secured for the project in 1988 and construction monies last year. Congress so far has invested more than $2 million of a projected $10 million needed for the center.

Infirmary starts baby clinic

A well-baby clinic, staffed by volunteers and student interns, has been added to the services provided by the Virginia Tech student infirmary. The program was started to provide quarterly check-ups for the offspring of graduate and undergraduate students and practical experience for pre-medicine students.

The program is run entirely by donations and volunteer work. The clinics, one evening a month, are especially popular among international students.

Virginia Tech a point of light

The Points of Light Foundation has awarded a one-year, $35,000 grant to Virginia Tech's Center for Volunteer Development to design a curriculum on community service and corporate social responsibility for graduate schools of business.

"With this grant, we are creating a program that emphasizes future corporate managers and executives becoming involved in community outreach," said Donald Plambeck, associate professor and director of volunteerism in Northern Virginia.

The Points of Light Foundation is a private, non-profit organization originating from President George Bush's inaugural speech on the "thousand points of light."

The foundation provided this grant to facilitate the development of curriculum guides to promote students' understanding of community service. The program also creates a clearinghouse for faculty and students studying and teaching community service.

"Research indicates that becoming involved in community problem solving and service can be developed through learning experiences," Plambeck stressed in the book, Developing Community Leaders, (Jossey Bass, 1981). The grant provides the financial assistance that will develop those learning experiences in the classroom.

Upon completion of the program's development, Virginia Tech's center and the foundation will convene a meeting of business school deans to determine implementation plans for the public service curriculum.

Entomology lab greets 10,000th visitor

They might gape in amazement or recoil in horror when faced with a 4-inch Madagascar cockroach, but any response is the right response when Virginia Tech entomology graduate students show the wonderful world of insects to children from Blacksburg-area schools.

James M. Grayson, professor emeritus and former department head, started the program in the mid-1960s as a way to introduce kids to bugs and to show them the role insects play in nature. It has been so successful that the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences welcomed its 10,000th visitor when a class of Blacksburg second graders visited this summer.

The department also recently hosted filmmakers from National Geographic producing a television segment on the life cycle of the German cockroach.

Jazz pianist takes up residency

Billy Taylor is an accomplished jazz pianist, an author, a television and radio personality, an arranger and conductor, a trio leader, recording artist, and founder of the Jazzmobile, which takes jazz to the streets of New York. And for this school year, he will be an artist-in-residence at Virginia Tech.

Taylor will make the trip to the New River Valley three times. In the fall, he performed with Virginia Tech jazz violinist Joe Kennedy Jr. He returns February 12 to perform a duo concert with world-famous pianist Ramsey Lewis, and again on March 24 for world-premiere performances with Kennedy, the Roanoke Symphony and the Billy Taylor Trio.

Taylor is perhaps best known to the general public as the on-air arts correspondent for CBS-TV's "Sunday Morning," hosted by Charles Kuralt. His 1983 profile of Quincy Jones won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational, Cultural, or Historical Programming. He also hosts his own program on BRAVO-TV, and has won a Peabody Award for his work on National Public Radio. He was profiled in his own PBS special, "Mr. Jazz."

In his role as an educator, Taylor has spent four decades crusading for greater recognition for jazz. He has authored 13 books and numerous articles on jazz. He was a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts and received a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

University submits supplemental budget request

As a result of economic recession and declining state revenues, state funding for university programs during the last two years was cut by $56 million, capital funding for nine projects withdrawn, and tuition increased by 21 percent for Virginia undergraduates and 45 percent for their out-of-state classmates. More than 350 university positions were eliminated.

$17.8 million requested

The highest priorities of a new University Plan approved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors for 1991-96 are to enhance the quality of undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. Other goals include public service, continuing education, Cooperative Extension, international programs, the diversity of the student body, library and information resources, and advanced computing and communications technologies. To achieve these goals, the university must also develop the necessary physical facilities.

In addition to baseline appropriations for basic operating expenses for the next two years, Virginia Tech requires additional funds, including the resources for a televised MBA program, an equine medical center, computer support, and a recycling alternatives project, for a total of $17.8 million for 1992-93.

Severe space shortages continue

In spite of continued enrollment, Virginia's colleges and universities have received virtually no capital outlay funding for educational programs since 1986, and statewide enrollment is projected to increase by 25 percent by the end of the 1990s. The board of visitors approved an innovative new plan to address space requirements of the university over the next decade (see page 14). The long-range capital outlay plan addresses this and other proposals, for a total of $51.6 million in general obligation bonds.

The restoration of funding for the Engineering/Architecture Infill Project, Veterinary Medicine Phase IV, and the Winchester Fruit Laboratory--three projects authorized in the 1989 and 1990 Lottery Bills but postponed because of the decline in state revenues--is the highest capital funding priority for 1992-94. The next highest capital priority is the Biotechnology Infill Project, which provides space for the new interdisciplinary activity of biotechnology. The federal government has shown an interest in assisting with the construction of this facility.

For more detailed information about the Virginia Tech budget proposal before the Virginia General Assembly, contact Ralph Byers, Director, Government Relations, 212 Burruss Hall, Blacksburg, Va. 24061.

Architecture heads global consortium

Through its Washington/Alexandria Center, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies directs what may be the only international consortium of architecture schools.

This urban branch of the college includes students and faculty from the Erevan Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Yerevan, Armenia; N.C. State University; California Polytechnic State University; Miami University; Florida A&M University; Oxford Polytechnic in England; and Virginia Tech.

Yokohama University in Japan has sent students and faculty to study at the facility, located in Old Town Alexandria, for the past two summers.

Student bomber wins big

Virginia Tech aerospace students chose a savage mythological creature, the Griffen, as the name of their winning design for a proposed new fighter plane. True to its reputation as an entity to be reckoned with, the Griffen won first place in the 1991 national competition sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and General Dynamics.

In Greek mythology, the Griffen, with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, was known for its speed, agility, and power. The students capitalized on these qualities, and using today's technologies, configured a 48,100-pound plane capable of carrying 10 bombs and making a high speed, sea-level dash to a combat site while avoiding detection by radar.

Aerospace students at Virginia Tech have won this national design competition for the past two years.

Letter from the Editor
Su Clauson, Virginia Tech Magazine

The tables have been turned. Every season this magazine arrives in the mail full of information about Virginia Tech. Lately, though, we've been trying to read you.
  • We want to learn more about the interests and preferences of you, our diverse alumni group, so that we can be more responsive. We started with a mail survey sent out to 1,000 randomly selected alumni last January. Nearly 27 percent of you responded--a good response--but we realized that to objectively evaluate the opinions of 104,000 alumni we needed to hit a larger group. So in July the Virginia Tech Development phonathon staff surveyed another 2,573 randomly selected alumni by telephone.
  • We found that more than half of you (about 51 percent) say the Virginia Tech Magazine is the primary way you receive university information. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed by phone (and 44 percent of those surveyed by mail) say they read most or all of the magazine. Those who say they read some of it comprise another 26 percent, while 39 percent describe their reading activity as browsing.
  • As a group, your responses to the magazine have been positive - 96 percent rated the general appearance as good or excellent; 67 percent rated the editorial content as good or excellent; 86 percent rated the writing quality as good or excellent; 85 percent rated the quality of photos and visuals as good or excellent; and 89 percent rated the overall quality as good or excellent.
  • But, given the option, a number of you would like to see certain changes in our editorial content: more short news items, more alumni profiles, more on individual college activities, more historical or nostalgic features, more on issues facing higher education, and more about new initiatives at Virginia Tech.
  • You're a little fuzzy about sports features; 38 percent want more, while 36 percent want fewer. Forty percent of you would like to see more letters to the editor. Fifty-three percent of those in the mail survey want to see fewer. Interesting, since we don't run any now.
  • Some alumni also have been asked to participate in a demographic survey this fall, a confidential survey of interests, tastes, and spending habits that is of special interest to potential advertisers in the Virginia Tech Magazine. To all of you who responded to our various surveys, we appreciate your help as we strive to improve the quality and responsiveness of your university's magazine.
  • Also in an attempt to be more responsive to your needs and interests and those of the university community, the magazine formed an editorial board this past year. Alumni representatives are: Michele Woodward (COMM '82), vice president of the Wexler Group public relations firm in Washington, D.C.; Craig Nesbit (COMM '81), executive editor of the Charlottesville Daily Progress; Bill Stagg (COMM '78), director of communications for the National FFA Association; and Allison Adams (COMM '78), director of public relations for Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. Development, alumni association, faculty, and public information and relations staff also serve on the board.
  • We invite your input. If you have any comments or suggestions, please write to us at: Virginia Tech Magazine, 102 Media Bldg., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0109.

Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 14, Number 2 Winter 1992