Hall Family Center for Business Science at Virginia Western Community College. Courtesy of Virginia Western Community College.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

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Virginia Western renames business science building after Hall family

Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke has renamed its Business Science Building as the Hall Family Center for Business Science, in recognition of Edwin C. “Ed” Hall and his family.

Hall, of Roanoke, is a former president of the board of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation and currently serves as chair of its scholarship and
grants committee. Earlier this year, he received the 16th annual Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy, recognizing him as a philanthropy leader in the Virginia Community College System.

Ed Hall and his daughter, Nicole Hall-Smith. Courtesy of Virginia Western Community College.

Hall, founder of the Roanoke-based real estate firm Hall Associates Inc., pledged a multigenerational planned gift in 2021 to the foundation. Initial giving is valued at $1 million to support the Virginia Western Forward Permanent Endowment Fund: a vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr., plus $250,000 for the Virginia Western Rapids Response Student Emergency Fund. Generational giving will culminate in a further multimillion-dollar gift to the Virginia Western Forward unrestricted endowment fund.

This legacy giving is in addition to Hall’s previous gifts of $1.1 million to establish and support Virginia Western’s Hall Associates Career Center, $100,000 for the Edwin C. Hall Endowed Chair for Management: Entrepreneurship, and the establishment of the Glenna H. Hall Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Women in Business.

The Business Science Building opened in 1988, and today it houses the school’s networking and cybersecurity labs, as well as Whitman Theater and the Student Commons.

“Ed’s belief in the college runs deep,” said Virginia Western President Robert Sandel. “He has
mentored our students. He has guided, pushed, advocated, defended and rallied our vision and our growth. There is no one more dedicated to our mission, our values and our ultimate success. He’s now shared that commitment with his family, which will only magnify his overall impact to the college.”

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Virginia Tech team captures first place in data competition

A team of Virginia Tech students placed first in the second heat of the Defense Data Grand Prix, a competition designed to tackle some of the most difficult data science issues faced by the government today. 

The team of Department of Statistics graduate students Adeline Guthrie and Danielle Sebring, recent computational modeling and data analysis graduate Sam Rizzuto, and current CMDA student Ryan Kaplan won a $40,000 prize with a project titled “Manufacturing Stores and Materiel Shortages,” the university announced in a news release.

The Defense Data Grand Prix was established by the Acquisition Innovation Research Center — a partnership of 22 U.S. universities, including Virginia Tech — and uses data and problems provided by agencies within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Held over a span of 18 months, the competition consists of three heats, each with a different focus. The second heat tasked competitors with demonstrating the scalable access and sharing of real, transformed or synthetic defense acquisition data.

In its winning project, the Virginia Tech team, led by assistant professor Christian Lucero of the Department of Statistics, worked with the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation directorate. Team members developed a model that could accurately predict materiel shortages and offered prescriptive actions that could be incorporated into the Defense Logistics Agency standard operating procedures.

The first heat, held in fall 2021, focused on planning, with teams submitting white papers to propose data science objectives and approaches to creating data access and analytics methods. Virginia Tech’s team, which included recent CMDA graduate Preston Childress along with Sebring, Rizzuto and Kaplan, placed third in the first heat to earn a $20,000 prize.

Virginia Tech will have another chance to compete this fall with the third and final heat of the Defense Data Grand Prix. Geared toward analysis and focusing more on statistical and machine-learning methods, competitors will apply advanced analytics and visualize findings from defense acquisition data.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension to hold Generation NEXT workshops

The Generation NEXT program, a partnership of the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Cooperative Extension, is hosting in-person and virtual workshops to help Virginia landowners make plans for passing on their land to the next generation.

The workshops, which will take place in South Boston, Galax and New Kent, serve as opportunities for family members to ask questions, receive information and get on the same page about their plans for the future.

Typically, these sessions are only in-person, but a virtual workshop has been added so dispersed families can take advantage of the resources and tools.

To participate in the workshops, families pay a single fee to participate. Registration opens up six weeks prior to each workshop. Visit the Extension website for more information.

In-person workshop dates are:

  • Aug. 26-27 in South Boston
  • Oct. 27 in Galax
  • Nov. 2 in New Kent County

Virtual workshops take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sept. 7, 8, 14 and 15.

“Many landowners are overwhelmed by the legacy planning process and assume that it primarily involves complicated estate planning with attorneys and accountants,” said Karl Didier, the Virginia Department of Forestry’s forestland conservation program manager. “The Generation NEXT program helps to ease estate planning and demonstrates how it’s just one part of the legacy planning process. Legacy planning is an ongoing process. Much like a forest changes over time, your plans will evolve. As priorities change or family dynamics shift, so should plans for your land.”

A companion to the workshop series, the “Legacy Planning: A Guide for Virginia Landowners” publication, provides an overview of the nine major steps involved in developing a robust land legacy plan. It includes case studies from landowners throughout Virginia and guides landowners to tools and resources. The free publication is available on the Virginia Tech website or in print by request.