Virginia Tech Magazine
Alumni Association
Spring 2010
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Alumni Association News
Alumni Association Highlights 1875-2010
Celebrating 135 years: An Alumni Association built on volunteer service and generous support
Groundbreaking for the YMCA building, first campaign for a campus construction project by the Alumni Association
Groundbreaking for the YMCA building, first campaign for a campus construction project by the Alumni Association

by Tom Tillar '69

Built on 135 years of service and support by the university's graduates, the Alumni Association has a powerful legacy. Addison Caldwell, first student to enroll in 1872, was elected secretary for the association, which had commenced in 1875, the year before he graduated. Although not documented, it is interesting to speculate about what those early graduates sensed was the purpose for this new association. They saw value in having a way to remain connected to each other and to their fledgling alma mater.

Accumulating and maintaining accurate alumni addresses was a priority for early Alumni Association leaders. No one at the college assumed that role, so alumni volunteers accepted the responsibility. Perhaps the most significant leaders of the early association emerged after the first 25 years: J.S.A. Johnson 1898 and H.H. Hill 1904, who developed the first systematic alumni records program. Modest annual alumni dues of $1, later raised to $3, were established to designate active alumni.

Helping address the needs of the college was an important mission of the Alumni Association. Since no campus facility even resembled a traditional student center, Alumni Association leaders initiated a campaign to raise funds to erect a YMCA building to serve that purpose. Donations totaled $20,729, and the cornerstone was laid at the project's completion in June 1899. The Y building, still used today, was the first campus structure constructed of locally quarried limestone.

Burruss Hall lighting was a class gift; may classes have made senior class and reunion gifts.
Burruss Hall lighting was a class gift; many classes have made senior class and reunion gifts.
A campaign, begun in 1919, funded construction of the War Memorial Gym, completed in 1926. The facility provided the first office for the newly appointed alumni secretary, Henry B. "Puss" Redd '19. The association adopted its first articles of incorporation in 1924, leading the way for professional staffing. Alumni chapters and a homecoming day also first appeared during the 1920s.

Following World War II, the association raised funds to construct the War Memorial and Chapel. Planning and fundraising began in 1945; construction commenced in 1951. The memorial was dedicated in 1960, with Maj. Gen. W. Thomas Rice '34, association president, presiding. A modern refurbishment effort, also led by the Alumni Association, concluded with a rededication ceremony in 2000, with Rice serving as the honored guest speaker.

Volunteer leaders of the Alumni Association developed the first fundraising initiatives for Virginia Tech. The Alumni Loyalty Fund provided money to operate the association, as well as to support students and faculty. In the early 1970s, two endowments were created to commemorate the university's centennial. Alumni Presidential Scholarship funds provided merit scholarships to students. Endowed funds for Alumni Distinguished Professorships (ADP) were the first to assist distinguished faculty members with supplements to their university salaries. Approximately 10 professors hold the ADP title at any one time.

Alumni Association Highlights 1875-2010
With the help of the board of visitors and alumni leaders, other organizations were formed to strengthen private support of the university. The Virginia Tech Foundation, established in 1948, provides a repository for gifts to benefit the university and manages endowments and other invested funds. Today, the foundation's assets are approximately $1 billion.
The Corps 1895-96 session
The Corps 1895-96 session

The Student Aid Association, today's Virginia Tech Athletic Fund, was created in 1950 to support grant-in-aid scholarships for athletes. In 1962, it established a system of Hokie Clubs to cultivate and solicit support. In 1991, the Alumni Association created an endowment for its programs that has grown to $4 million. Voluntary support for the association comes through the university's Annual Fund as a gift designation to the Virginia Tech Foundation for "Alumni Programs" or the "Alumni Association."The programs of the Alumni Association range from maintaining records for more than 200,000 living alumni to overseeing programs that involve alumni in the life of the university. The alumni chapter program has grown to 143 chapters around the world (at least 11 are located abroad). These chapters are open to all alumni and do not require membership dues.

Peer associations have recognized Tech's association for its constituency-relations program. The association has a staff member in each of the university's colleges, as well as multicultural and corps of cadets alumni programs. These operations complement the reunions organized by graduation class year, special student organizations, and athletic teams.

Under the Hokie Nation Serves initiative, Tech alumni annually perform thousands of hours of community service through chapter-organized efforts. Tech's alumni even serve abroad, such as the service recently performed in the Dominican Republic by alumni in collaboration with students and faculty from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Henry B. Redd '19
Henry B. Redd '19

Henry B. Redd ’19, alumni secretary 1926–60
Marcus L. Oliver ’44, director of Alumni Affairs 1960–65
Phil R. Oliver Sr., acting director of Alumni Affairs 1965–66
C. Bruce Ross ’57, director of Alumni Affairs 1966–67
Herman L. Pritchard ’24, acting director of Alumni Affairs 1967–68
George E. Russell ’52, vice president for Alumni Relations 1968–95 *
Thomas C. Tillar Jr. ’69, vice president for Alumni Relations 1996–present

This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Holtzman Alumni Center, which has received tens of thousands of visitors since opening in 2005. Perhaps the most popular stop for visitors is the Alumni Museum, which features memorabilia spanning 138 years of university history. The Alumni Center was headquarters for the media during the week of April 16, 2007, and it displays some of the more than 88,000 pieces of memorabilia sent to campus from all over the world following the tragedy.

The Alumni Association's accomplishments have been made possible only through the creativity and energy of many alumni who have generously volunteered their time and talents to make Virginia Tech a better university.

Alumni Association Highlights 1875-2010
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