Virginia Tech Magazine

Volume 15, Number 4
Summer 1993


Hotel Roanoke to reopen in 1995

Virginia Tech and the city of Roanoke have secured financing to renovate the Hotel Roanoke and build an adjacent conference center. Construction, scheduled to begin this summer, should be completed by 1995.

The $40.3 million project seemed short of obtaining full funding during the fall of 1992, but a community fund-raising effort late in the year brought in $5 million. Norfolk Southern Corp., the hotel's former owner, pledged $2 million--the company's largest contribution ever--as part of the fund-raising effort, "Renew Roanoke."

Five local banks will join with Shenandoah Life Insurance Co. to lend $6.5 million. In addition, the city of Roanoke will purchase land surrounding the hotel for $3 million. The university foundation and the city will fund the remainder of the project.

The hotel renovation will preserve the Tudor exterior and the traditional look of the interior while providing about 350 modern rooms for lodging. The 90,000-square-foot conference center will include a ballroom for large conventions.

Commencement celebrated

More than 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas at recent ceremonies. Conferred were: 2,807 bachelor's degrees, 800 master's degrees, 275 doctoral degrees, 24 certificates of advanced graduate studies, 82 doctor of veterinary medicine degrees, and 37 associate degrees in agricultural technology.

John Ashworth, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science in England, gave the keynote address for the 121st Commencement ceremony on May 8. Ashworth has written numerous articles related to biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, physiology, and education.

Eleanor Baum, dean of engineering at Cooper Union, New York City, spoke at the doctoral hooding ceremony May 7. The author of a widely distributed national survey of women engineers, Baum has served on many National Science Foundation committees and review panels.

Fiber optics center wins $6.5-million grant

Virginia Tech's Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center has received a contract for $6.5 million from the Naval Research Lab.

Research will consist of three primary components: the production of specialized fibers from improved glasses and other materials, the development of optical fibers as sensors, and the development of nonlinear optical devices.

The new types of fibers would improve the production and overall quality of optical fibers and would be important, for example, to the performance of long-distance fiber used for high speed information transmission. Improved fiber sensors will facilitate the use of fiber optics as sensors.

The center, the first established by the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, has educated hundreds of students, provided technology advancements for companies statewide, and fostered several new companies in the region. This grant will further enhance Virginia Tech's position as a world leader in fiber optics, support additional students, and create more jobs and spin-off companies.

South Africa symposium held

A representative of the Inkahta freedom party shared the stage for the first time with an African National Congress official, and he thanked Virginia Tech for the opportunity to participate in such an open discussion, something he called "rare among South Africans."

At the Virginia Tech Presidential Symposium, "The Future of South Africa," held in February, South Africans representing a variety of viewpoints joined American commentators to discuss problems and possible solutions.

Keynote speaker Randall Robinson, director of the lobbying group TransAfrica, said he was not optimistic that implementing democratic reforms, including a proposed constitution and cabinet, would be enough to bring peace to the troubled nation. "South Africa is poised on a razor's edge," Robinson said. And, he predicted, unless massive amounts of Western aid comes into the country to help bridge the huge economic gaps between blacks and whites, violence will continue. "You can't easily end years of suspicion, mistrust, and violence," Robinson said. "The economic inequality that is at the root of the problem must be addressed if there is to be a chance for real change."

$30-million grant targets vocational education

For the second time, the national vocational education consortium to which Virginia Tech belongs has been awarded a $30 million, five-year federal grant to further vocational education research, development, dissemination, and training.

The National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE) consists of seven universities and research groups--including Virginia Tech's College of Education--which conduct research and develop programs for high schools and community colleges, promote greater access to higher education, and emphasize hands-on work experience for high school students.

NCRVE projects at Virginia Tech include preparing teachers to integrate vocational and academic education; leadership assessment; curriculum and staff development research for Tech Prep programs; and a professional development academy.

President Bill Clinton's transition team sought the consortium's advice on the structure of federal vocational education programs.

Phadke honored for engineering achievements

A Virginia Tech professor of electrical engineering who is studying ways to improve electrical power systems through computers has been named to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Arun G. Phadke, American Electric Power (AEP) Named Professorship of Electrical Engineering, directs the center for Electric Power Engineering. He is investigating computer-based monitoring and protection of power systems and developing alternate energy systems for the United States and third-world countries.

Phadke is the seventh Virginia Tech faculty member elected to the NAE.

Lavery honored at Founders Day

Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the allied operations in Kuwait and Iraq, delivered the keynote address at Founders Day ceremonies April 2. Kelly spoke about America's troops and technology in the Gulf War. He said the United States needs to keep up its military strength to deal with potentially threatening situations in such places as Russia, the former Yugoslavia, Iran, and Pakistan. The general also offered advice to corps of cadet members on developing their leadership potential.

The father of a Virginia Tech student, junior English major Elizabeth, Kelly served this past year as a founding member of the Virginia Tech Parents Advisory Board.

At this year's award ceremonies, President Emeritus William E. Lavery received the 1993 William H. Ruffner Medal. During Lavery's 13-year tenure as president, the university evolved into one of the nation's premier land-grant and research universities. Under his leadership, the university grew and improved in virtually every measure, from the quality of faculty and the salaries paid them to improvement of the physical plant.

Alumni Harold Hoback (AE '53) and Joe Thomas (IE '43) were honored with the university's alumni distinguished service awards.

Hoback, president of AFH Corp. of Roanoke, a real estate holding company, also is senior vice president of Chaney, Thomas, Stephenson and Hill Inc., an insurance bonding agency. He serves as president and director of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni, Inc. Hoback set up an endowed scholarship for Air Force ROTC students, and this past year, five scholarships were awarded.

Thomas, president of Thomas Brothers Inc. of Salem, is a member of the Virginia Tech Athletic Committee, former president of the Virginia Tech Athletic Fund, and chairman of the Second Century Campaign, which raised $18.6 million to enhance Virginia Tech intercollegiate athletics.

Virginia Tech Magazine Volume 15, Number 4 Summer 1993