Virginia Tech Magazine
Spring 2010
Bookmark and Share

Commonwealth Campus Centers

by Andrea Brunais and Liz Crumbley

The commonwealth campus centers help professionals build solid foundations for their careers.
John McCormick
The commonwealth campus centers help professionals build solid foundations for their careers.
Graduation can mean leaving Blacksburg, but it doesn't necessarily mean saying goodbye to Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech's Outreach and International Affairs operates five commonwealth campus centers, placed strategically around the state: the Richmond, Roanoke, and Hampton Roads centers; Reynolds Homestead in Critz; and the Southwest Virginia Center in Abington. For those seeking formal education, the centers' programs can lead to certifications or even graduate degrees. Other offerings can help people start businesses, get ahead in the workplace, or simply pursue learning for the fun of it.


Situated on the seventh floor of the Roanoke Higher Education Center, the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center is within easy walking distance of the downtown market area's bustling restaurants and shops.

The Roanoke Center serves a diverse constituency. Business leaders can learn and also share their expertise in the bimonthly Business Forum series of workshops held October through May. Students seeking entry to MBA programs can take a GMAT (graduate management admission test) preparation course. And members of the community can sit in on Virginia Tech faculty members' first-Friday research presentations, while individuals age 50 or older can take noncredit courses for a nominal fee.

A 22-station computer classroom features upgraded technology and on-site technical support. But the center is down to earth as well. It is the home of VT Earthworks, a regional center that nurtures businesses springing up in agriculture and natural resources.



To view a nine-minute mini-workshop on personality types in the workplace, videotaped at Virginia Tech's Richmond Center, go to

The Richmond Center can customize programming to fit clients' needs and can offer programs at the center, on site at the corporate location, online, or using video conferencing. Engineers, architects, business and public administrators, technical professionals--all can find courses relevant to their fields.

The center offers a number of graduate degrees, including a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies and master's degrees in both public and business administration, in several engineering disciplines, and in information and instructional technology. Licensure courses for teachers are also part of the mix.

The Richmond Center is also known for helping professionals build a solid foundation for their careers through its series of human-development workshops that not only help with teambuilding but also home in on the all-important workplace skills of self-awareness and social awareness. Topics include leadership development; communication; and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which identifies personality types and their preferred work styles.


Housed at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in historic Abingdon, the Virginia Tech Southwest Center hosts a number of programs popular with alumni.

Each spring, alumni sponsor an event at the center that features a presentation by a noted historian, often James I. "Bud" Robertson Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor and executive director of Virginia Tech's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. More than 200 people attend.

Another annual spring program, which has become a favorite among alumni educators, is the School Law Update seminar presented by David Alexander, chair of educational leadership and policy studies at Virginia Tech. Alumni also attend and act as instructors for the center's annual Summer STEM Institute, which updates statewide educators from throughout the state on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

Educational opportunities at the centers aren't limited to indoor programs.
Educational opportunities at the centers aren't limited to indoor programs.
Additionally, the center hosts meetings of the Virginia Tech Southwest Virginia Alumni Association. Each year on April 16, the center and the association, joined by the East Tennessee alumni chapter and the local Johnston Memorial Hospital Blood Bank, sponsor a blood drive in Abingdon.

The Southwest Center also offers year-round graduate and certificate programs, workshops, seminars, and training programs in a variety of fields.


The Hampton Roads Center in Virginia Beach serves a large regional population with graduate programs. The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program offers courses for educators in such subjects as advanced school law, educational administration, advanced school finance, community and interagency collaboration, and delivery of instructional services.

Another popular program is the distance-learning Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, sponsored by Virginia Tech and four other state universities. Through the center, alumni can earn master's degrees from Tech in civil and environmental, electrical and computer, or industrial and systems engineering.

In partnership with the Green Jobs Alliance and Greener Results Consulting, the center has developed the Green Jobs Academy, which will make available a comprehensive package of programs aimed at creating green jobs and practices in the hospitality, construction, and agriculture industries.


Situated in Patrick County, Reynolds Homestead features the Rock Spring Plantation House, constructed in 1843 and a fully restored registered state and national landmark, and a continuing education center, both operated by Outreach and International Affairs. The College of Natural Resources operates a 780-acre Forest Resources Research Center at the site.
All ages benefit from the programs hosted by the commonwealth campus centers.
All ages benefit from the myriad programs hosted by the campus centers.

Reynolds Homestead hosts programs throughout the year. Upcoming events include:

  • weekend tours of Rock Spring Plantation House, April through October
  • the College for Older Adults, with classes ranging from hiking and fitness to legal issues for seniors, April 19 through May 27
  • the Spring Frolic on May 1, featuring dance and musical performances, arts-and-crafts displays, and programs by the Virginia Museum of Natural History
  • the 10th annual showcase of Bull Mountain artists in June
  • a traveling exhibit of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in July.

For more information about the commonwealth campus centers, visit

ANDREA BRUNAIS is the communications manager for Outreach and International Affairs (OIA), and LIZ CRUMBLEY is an OIA writer.

Virginia Tech