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

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Virginia Tech receives $5 million to expand sustainable land development initiative

A Virginia Tech alumnus has committed $5 million to the Charles E. Via Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to expand learning initiatives in sustainable land development, the university announced Monday.

The Bowman Sustainable Land Development Program, named for Gary Bowman, a 1980 graduate, will encompass the undergraduate and graduate academic components of sustainable land development, including a master’s program that’s now in its second year, according to a news release.

Gary Bowman. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech.

The program also will encompass the Land Development Design Initiative, which will be renamed but will continue to serve as a portal through which individuals and organizations in the land development industry can provide input on curriculum and engage with students. 

The Land Development Design Initiative, which was created around 2005, began as a collaboration between the Via department and professionals across the land development industry. In addition to providing mentors inside the classroom, the initiative works to acquaint students with career opportunities within the industry, including municipal engineering, real estate and specialized areas of sustainability.

Bowman, who graduated from Tech with a degree in civil and environmental engineering, founded Bowman Consulting in 1995 as a small firm focused on the planning and design of residential communities throughout Northern Virginia. It has grown into a 1,700-person publicly traded design and consulting firm with offices throughout the U.S.

Bowman has served on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Alumni Board. He also is a member of the Via department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni. During the Land Development Design Initiative’s early years, Bowman served on the program’s leadership board. Bowman’s wife, Terri, and son Greg are both graduates of the Pamplin College of Business. 

“The program has withstood the test of time and has blossomed into a mature program educating a tremendous number of students,” Bowman said. “My hope is that this gift will be the beginning of a new level of support for the program that will ensure its long-term durability and provide resources to enable it to continue to grow and evolve.” 

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UVA Wise students to present at Marshall

Two students at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise will pitch their entrepreneurship business projects at the first Appalachian Social Enterprise Summit at Marshall University on Tuesday.

Zachary Cunningham, a business administration major from Farmington, Missouri, will share his vision linking eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia nonprofits called Appalachia Social Capital Bridge.

Isaias Martin Gutierrez, a business major, will present his solution to help feed Appalachia called Hungry to Serve Appalachia. He hopes to tackle chronic hunger in the region though a non-profit that aims to reduce food waste and better utilize natural resources. Martin Gutierrez is from Huelva, Spain. 

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University of Lynchburg will host 2 history seminars

The University of Lynchburg will host two history seminars this fall, one focusing on archaeology at Historic Sandusky and the other on wolf eradication in the U.S. and Finland.

The first presentation, “Archaeology in Action: New Insights from the Kitchen Excavation at Historic Sandusky,” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 in Hopwood Auditorium. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

The presentation provides an overview of archaeological work currently being undertaken at Lynchburg’s Historic Sandusky, a house museum owned and operated by the University of Lynchburg since 2016. In a partnership with the university, engineering firm Hurt & Proffitt’s cultural resources department is leading the kitchen house renovation.

The presenters will be a mixture of H&P staff and students from the university. They include Jessica Gantzert, H&P’s laboratory director and conservator and the principal investigator on the kitchen house project; Randy Lichtenberger, archaeologist and director of cultural resources for H&P; and three Lynchburg history majors, Emma Coffey ’23, Haley Sabolcik ’23 and Abby Gonshorowski ’24.

Greg Starbuck, director of Historic Sandusky, said in a statement that “excavations have taken place sporadically over the years, but starting in early 2021, continuous work has been done on the property focusing on the side work yard,” which includes the detached kitchen and smokehouse. Work is also being done to research the enslaved people who lived and worked in those areas.

These undertakings, Starbuck said, have provided archaeologists with new and previously unknown insights into what daily life looked like in Lynchburg in the 19th century.

The second presentation will be given by a University of Lynchburg history professor, Adam Dean. “Wolf Eradication in the United States and Finland” will be held at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in Hopwood Auditorium. Admission to the lecture is free and the public is invited.

The lecture will begin by exploring an extremely rare wolf-predation incident in Finland between 1879 and 1882, when two gray wolves killed 35 children.

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Danville Community College opens registration for 2022 Idea Fair

Danville Community College is seeking students to participate in its annual Idea Fair, which will be held in the Temple Building on the DCC campus from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

The fair is conducted each year on National Entrepreneur’s Day, which honors people who have built an empire from absolutely nothing.

The Idea Fair is meant to ignite innovation and creativity in students and seeks to address disparities, such as the lack of entrepreneurial programming for women and people of color, an underdeveloped pipeline for youth entrepreneurship and a lack of support for entrepreneurs facing isolation, according to a news release.

To participate, students submit an original entrepreneurial ideas to be judged by a panel of volunteers from local high schools, universities and businesses. Projects will be judged on originality, creativity, project design, presentation, innovation, diversity, economic impact, sustainability and how well the project solves a relevant problem. Participants must be present to explain their projects to the judges and other attendees.

Winners will be awarded for their submissions:

  • First place prize for a high school senior attending DCC next year – $1,000
  • First place student – $300
  • Second place student – $200
  • Third place student – $100
  • Each additional participant – $50

To register, visit For questions about the Idea Fair, contact Willie Sherman at 434-797-8470 or

The fair is open to students from Pittsylvania County Schools, Danville Public Schools, Caswell Public Schools, area private schools, DCC and the community. It is hosted by the college in partnership with Dan River Region Entrepreneur Ecosystem, Longwood Small Business Development Center, River District Association, Danville/Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce and The Launch Place.