Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke (from left), Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui, and Azim Eskandarian, mechanical engineering department head and the Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chaired Professor, light a ceremonial Nachiarkoil lamp to inaugurate Virginia Tech’s newest site in Chennai, India. Photo by Priya Gouthman for Virginia Tech.
Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke (from left), Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Dan Sui, and Azim Eskandarian, mechanical engineering department head and the Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chaired Professor, light a ceremonial Nachiarkoil lamp to inaugurate Virginia Tech’s newest site in Chennai, India. Photo by Priya Gouthman for Virginia Tech.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs around Southwest and Southside:

Virginia Tech delegation visits India

A delegation of senior administrators and faculty members from Virginia Tech recently embarked upon a visit to India to inaugurate the university’s newest office in Chennai, cultivate partnerships with industry leaders from Mahindra, and meet a cohort of business students in Mumbai coming to Blacksburg this fall. 

“As a land-grant university, we are absolutely committed to not only education, but also to high-quality, highly productive research, and then the transfer of that research for the betterment of the communities that we serve through our scholarship. For us to accomplish that, we need to understand that we are working within a broader context — that we are a global research university, and global universities like Virginia Tech need to have really good partners in the right places in the world,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke in a statement. He led the delegation. It was his second trip to India in three years.

Virginia Tech has had a presence in South Asia countries since 2009, with research ties that go back even further.

Clarke and Guru Ghosh, vice president for outreach and international affairs, were joined by Dan Sui, senior vice president and chief research and innovation officer; Aimée Surprenant, dean of the Graduate School; Azim Eskandarian, mechanical engineering department head and the Nicholas and Rebecca Des Champs Chaired Professor; and Vishwanath Venkatesh, Eminent Scholar and Verizon Chair of Business Information Technology.

The Virginia Tech delegation met with leaders of Indian educational institutions and representatives of innovative corporations as well as students and alumni. One of the trip’s highlights was the inauguration of a satellite office in the IIT Madras Research Park — the result of a growing collaboration with one of India’s premier universities, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai, India’s fourth-largest city and an automotive center.

Virginia Tech’s new satellite office will be a platform for faculty members to collaborate with the companies, researchers, and industry leaders in the IIT Madras Research Park. The space includes workstations for drone education programs and adaptable workspaces for visiting faculty members and Ph.D. candidates.

“Chennai is the Detroit of India,” Ghosh said. “For Virginia Tech to have a presence in this research park is Provost Clarke’s vision and a testament to the breadth of our research capabilities and the expert knowledge of our researchers. This new center gives us an important toehold in this great city and will help us develop even more partnerships within its education and research ecosystems.”

In 2019, Virginia Tech established a footprint in northern India through a collaboration with the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, one of India’s oldest educational institutions and a pioneer in engineering education and research. There, Virginia Tech runs the Center of Excellence in Emerging Materials, located on a newly constructed 7,000-square-foot floor under the leadership of Roop Mahajan, the Lewis A. Hester Chair in Engineering and former director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

In western India, Virginia Tech has had a partnership since 2020 with Mumbai-based NMIMS, formerly called Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. Together, the two institutions run two dual degree programs — a master’s program in economics and a 3+1+1 program through which business students can earn three degrees in five years.

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Lynchburg holds Suzuki Festival at City Stadium

Lynchburg City Schools will present its 51st Annual Suzuki Festival this Sunday, April 23, 2023 at the Lynchburg City Stadium. The concert event begins at 2 p.m.

The Suzuki Festival brings together elementary and middle school string students from across the division and culminates with over 500 students performing on the field all at once. This event is free and open to the public with a rain date of Sunday, May 7, 2023.

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Emory & Henry has scholarship for Christiansburg students

Emory & Henry College now has an endowed scholarship that will help support students from Christiansburg High School to attend the school.

The King-Earp-Ross Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established in December 2022, by the initial donor, Evans L. King, Jr., to recognize his father, Evans L. King ’34, as well as those of  James E. “Buddy” Earp ’51 and Omar G. Ross ’54.

This endowed scholarship is to be awarded to a graduating senior each year from CHS who has been accepted as a full-time student at Emory & Henry College, has a validated financial need, and has demonstrated leadership and integrity through school and volunteer opportunities. The award shall continue with the student selected for four years of matriculation if the recipient maintains at least a 3.00 overall GPA.

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University of Lynchburg names graduation speakers

Award-winning fashion designer and illustrator Daniel Paige Toney — known professionally as Daniel Paige — is the University of Lynchburg’s 2023 Commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. Paige, a 2011 graduate of the University of Lynchburg, teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and works as a designer, illustrator, and costumer in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Dr. Bernard Toney ’20 DMSc, associate investigator at the National Institutes of Health and adjunct professor of global health in Lynchburg’s Doctor of Medical Science program, will speak to the DMSc and PA Medicine graduates. Before his retirement from the U.S. Army in 2022, Toney served as a White House medical officer for two presidential administrations.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy ceremony will feature Kyle Kirby ’23 DPT as the keynote speaker. 

Bill Bodine ’78, ’89 MAd, former president of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, will address candidates at the master’s programs ceremony. 

Commencement exercises will take place on Thursday, May 18, and Friday, May 19.

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Roanoke College professor picked for Fulbright

The Fulbright Scholar Program has tapped Roanoke College Professor Dolores Flores-Silva for a 2023-2024 fellowship that will allow her to pursue a teaching and writing project in Mexico. 

Flores-Silva, an educator for nearly 30 years and Roanoke College’s first tenured Hispanic professor, will devote the fall semester to teaching at a Mexican university where she’ll offer a curriculum designed around Chicano literature; racial history and constructs in the U.S. and Mexico; and other themes that explore issues of identity, culture and belonging across the two neighboring nations. 

Flores-Silva grew up in Veracruz, a coastal city along the Gulf of Mexico, and has spotlighted the rich history and culture of the Gulf states region throughout her career in both books and documentaries. She joined Roanoke’s faculty in 2001 and leads courses in the Spanish program and the Latin American & Caribbean Studies concentration.  

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