Virginia Tech's Burruss Hall. Courtesy of Ben Schumin.

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Tech raises $268.5 milllion

Virginia Tech has set a record for donations.

Alumni, friends, parents, employees, and students combined to make nearly $268.5 million in new gifts and commitments during the 2021-22 fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, according to the school.

The all-time-record show of generosity was a 34 percent from the $200.3 million given in fiscal year 2020-21.

Along with the record total in new gifts and commitments, the 2021-22 fiscal year saw the largest single gift ever made by a Virginia Tech graduate, $35 million from Norris Mitchell ’58 and his wife, Wendy Mitchell, to name a new College of Engineering building. A record amount, nearly $78.6 million in new gifts and commitments, was raised for the engineering college overall. The fiscal year also saw the undergraduate alumni giving percentage reach 22 percent, doubling the rate from the end of the fiscal year 2015-16 and achieving an ambitious goal set by Sands in fall 2016 in his first State of the University Address.

Other notable examples of philanthropy in the past fiscal year included $12.5 million toward quantum research and education from leading global aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman and nearly $49.6 million given to athletics, which was an increase of more than 70 percent from athletics donations the previous fiscal year. Athletics announced a $400 million fundraising initiative called “Reach for Excellence” in 2021 and by April of this year, announced it had raised over $200 million toward that goal.

“We’re building operations to sustain a $200 million-a-year fundraising operation and aim to grow to $300 million-a-year over the next half-decade,” said Vice President for Advancement Charlie Phlegar in a statement. “To do this, we’ll keep finding new ways to engage alumni and fans, progress toward our goal to become a top 100 global university, foster innovative partnerships with philanthropic and industry leaders, and ensure the long-term health and success of Virginia Tech.”

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Danville defense program graduates 35 in third cohort

A third cohort of students, including 35 adult learners from 14 states, graduated from the Accelerated  Training in Defense Manufacturing program in Danville on Aug. 5. This 16-week, hands-on curriculum rapidly  develops skilled workers with industry recognized credentials for employment in the defense industry. The program is located at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

ATDM trains workers in key trades to fill skill gaps in welding, CNC machining, quality control inspection and  additive manufacturing. The program was developed as a public-private consortium between the U.S. Department  of Defense, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), Danville Community College (DCC), Phillips  Corporation and The Spectrum Group, in coordination with maritime defense industry partners and Navy  stakeholders. Scaling the ATDM program is a priority effort planned in the Submarines Industrial Base budget, and  a key enabler in the Navy’s ability to reach and sustain the required submarine production cadence, deliver on the  construction of the Navy’s number-one priority Columbia Class submarine, and ensure sustainment of existing  platforms. This program is also positioned to have a significant impact across all maritime programs and platforms,  and includes addressing workforce constraints at shipbuilders, shipyards and the sub-tier supply chain.  

IALR hosted an ATDM completion ceremony on Aug. 5. Dr. Debra Holley, ATDM Director, and Dr. Jerry Wallace,  DCC President, awarded completion certificates. Commissioner Daniel Gade with the Virginia Department of  Veterans Services served as keynote speaker. Students hailed from Hawaii, California, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma,  North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.  Of the 35 graduates, two are Navy veterans, two are active Navy personnel, and three are Afghan allies. Fourteen  of the students were incumbent workers, sponsored by their employers to advance and expand their skills;  sponsoring industry partners included Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Curtiss-Wright (New York), Bearon Manufacturing  (Pennsylvania), and others. The remaining graduates are working with ATDM placement staff to gain employment;  to date, students have received offers from Newport News Shipbuilding, Electric Boat and BWX Technologies.  

For more on this program, see this background story: ‘How Danville has become a center for shipbuilding trades.’

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New River Community College announces new classes

New River Community College has announced three new classes this fall:

Introduction to Digital Photography (PHT 164) teaches the fundamentals of photography including camera function, composition, and image production as they apply to digital imagery. This course is open for those who want to learn how to use any camera they own, including phones, who want to learn basic Photoshop skills with photos, and who may be interested in marketing their own small business.

The class will meet on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. in person at NRCC’s Christiansburg site, with the first day of class on Aug. 25.

Reading Literature: Culture and Ideas (ENG 225) examines a set of literary texts linked by a particular theme, with inquiry into the historical, cultural, and/or social contexts of the texts and the theme. This year’s theme will specifically focus on family ties throughout Celtic literature. 

The course emphasizes interpretive and critical analysis skills developed through close reading and intertextual study, as well as highlights an exploration of cultural ideas while engaging the works of diverse genres, authors, and time periods. ENG 225 is a transferable course. 

Course materials include novels “No Great Mischief” by Alistair MacLeod and Ruth Gilligan’s “The Butcher’s Blessing.” 

The class will meet online beginning Aug. 22.  Ben Campbell, professor of English at NRCC, will be teaching the 14-week course. Campbell is a published author of many works including a recent book of poems titled “Darker Still.” Individual poems have appeared in literary journals including the Broad River Review, Bluestone Review, Floyd County Moonshine and Clinch Mountain Review.

Women in Literature (ENG 275) examines literary texts by women writers from diverse time periods, genres, and authors. Students will develop skills of close reading and literary analysis through the study of texts within their historical, cultural, social and/or literary contexts. Throughout the course, students will explore how women’s experiences have shaped their literary contributions, the cultural forces affecting their lives and how they have used writing to shape their cultures. ENG 275 is a transferable course.

The class will meet online beginning Aug. 22.  Megan Doney, professor of English at NRCC, will be teaching the 14-week course.  Doney has taught at NRCC since 2008. Her writing has been published in Earth & Altar and Creative Nonfiction and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently working on an essay collection.

Course materials include novels “Truth and Beauty” by Ann Patchett, “All You Can Ever Know” by Nicole Chung, “Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoire” by Natasha Trethewey, and more.  

Current NRCC students may register for classes online by visiting their student accounts. New students or those who may need additional support to register can reach out to an advisor by emailing or calling 540-674-3609.

Prospective NRCC students may visit for enrollment information. The class schedule is available at

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Kay Hunnings. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Pamplin’s associate dean to retire

Kay Hunnings, associate dean for administration at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, will retire on Sept. 1.  

Hunnings joined the university as an internal auditor in 1994. She was a senior accountant with the Virginia Tech Foundation from 1996-2001 and director of accounting and financial reporting and secretary-treasurer of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center before joining Pamplin as associate dean for administration in 2007.

Hunnings earned her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1979. She became a Certified Public Accountant in 1995 and earned her MBA from Pamplin in 2007.

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Virginia Tech has new interactive map

Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus has a new interactive campus map

The new map was developed through a collaborative effort by the Division of Information Technology’s Enterprise GIS group; Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities GIS; the Office for Equity and Accessibility; University Relations; and the Disability Alliance and Caucus. These groups partnered for over two years to make the first significant improvements to the map’s user interface and technical configuration in nearly a decade.

User feedback about the new map may be directed to