Virginia Tech Magazine
Philanthropy -|- Summer 2007
Pamplin College of Business

When people think of corporations and family foundations, they don't always think of them as being strong patrons of education. Yet these organizations are important partners for Virginia Tech. And what's more, their reasons for supporting the university are often quite similar to the reasons why private donors give.

As with individuals, corporations and foundations often give to universities to support research that is of particular interest to their industry or society. For example, they may sponsor research in engineering that allows faculty members to test new theories or to put new knowledge into practice. This type of philanthropy is vital to a university like Virginia Tech, where information is at a premium and ideas are now capital.

Often, however, companies and foundations simply want to support the educational mission of the university by creating scholarships, fellowships, and professorships--gifts directly related to bringing the brightest faculty and students to Virginia Tech. It is this common motivation for giving that connects philanthropists across the country.

This summer, the Pamplin College of Business received two such generous gifts. BB&T Corp. gave $1 million to create a new program titled "Exploring the Foundations of Capitalism and Freedom" and the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation gave $1 million to create an endowed professorship in the Department of Hospitality, Tourism, and Management (HTM). Each of these gifts will transform student education, though their methods of doing so are quite different.

Vijay Singal
Vijay Singal is the J. Gray Ferguson Professor of Finance, a professorship created in 1996 by individual donors. This position, which supports Singal's important research and teaching in the Pamplin College of Business, is an example of the connection between the motivation behind corporate and foundation giving and individual philanthropy.
In creating a new program in finance, BB&T will provide undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to attend lectures and enroll in courses that specifically address an area of study that wasn't available before. The program, which will offer a crucial overview of capitalism from many perspectives, will be overseen by Department of Finance Head Vijay Singal. "It is a very important program that will present a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of free market economies, which is a valuable topic to students across several disciplines within the college," Singal notes.

Additionally, the program will establish a speaker series on capitalism, which will give Virginia Tech students wider exposure to current issues facing business managers and policy makers, insight that is sometimes missing from a student's education. "Unfortunately," notes John A. Allison IV, chairman and CEO for BB&T, "we find that many graduates from business schools, while understanding the technology of business, do not have a clear grasp on the moral principles underlying free markets. Underwriting programs such as this one encourages meaningful dialogue about the concepts of reason, individual rights, economic freedom, and the personal pursuit of happiness." These gifts create a unique relationship between BB&T and the university, one that produces quality graduates who go on to work in the very industry that helps shape their education.

Another important way to influence student learning is through the recruitment of prominent faculty members. When the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation gave $1 million to endow the Marriott Professor of Hospitality Financial Management, it created an opportunity for Pamplin College administrators to recruit the brightest, most promising scholars in the field. This ability to bring to campus educators of world-class caliber means the university can attract the brightest students to the program as well. Since an endowed professorship also creates a permanent investment in advancing professional education in hospitality management, this gift will provide support in perpetuity.

"The passion of the Marriott family is to further the good of the lodging industry in general," says Steve Bauman, vice president of talent acquisition and selection for Marriott International. "We are interested in Virginia Tech as a place that develops tomorrow's leaders." Bauman further notes that "Marriott has a lot of opportunities for operations managers and Virginia Tech is a talent pipeline for graduates with technical knowledge and a hospitality mindset."

Richard Perdue, department head for HTM, says that financial management is a vital area of study that requires teachers who are adept at distributing the knowledge to students and, from there, to the broader community. "Our students need this knowledge to succeed in HTM and with this professorship, I am confident we now have the resources necessary to attract the very best scholars in this field--and the best students."

As with many individuals across the nation, corporations and family foundations have a vested interest in shaping student education. In part, their motivation for giving to research and education is a desire to give back. But by creating programs and professorships, these foundations and corporations show their continued interest in the core of a university mission: to educate students who go on to be leaders in industry and society. "Because of this generous support," says Pamplin College of Business Dean Richard Sorensen, "we can continue to succeed at doing just that."

About the donors

BB&T Corporation is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and its subsidiaries offer full-service commercial, retail banking, and additional financial services, such as insurance, investments, retail brokerage, mortgage, corporate finance, consumer finance, payment services, international banking, leasing, and trust. BB&T operates more than 1,470 financial centers in the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Indiana, and Washington, D.C. It is the nation's 12th largest financial holding company with $121.7 billion in assets.

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Under the direction of J.W. Marriott Jr. and Richard E. Marriott, the Marriott Foundation contributes annually to a variety of worthy organizations. Through these contributions, the foundation provides civic and human services, such as relief from hunger and disaster, youth leadership, and mentoring. Equally important to the foundation's mission is the fostering of secondary and higher education and assisting the disabled and disadvantaged in qualifying for gainful employment.

The power of compassion: A boy and his dog
by Jennifer Henderson and Jeffrey Douglas
Often, a pet is less like an animal and more like a member of the family. But when pets need expensive medical care, families are sometimes faced with a difficult decision. Individual donors can give hope to these families by creating a compassion fund within the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM).

For David and Susan Furst of Stevensville, Md., a compassion fund made a huge difference to their young family. Their son, Jackson, was an infant when he was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy after encountering some challenges with motor function and speech. When adapting their lifestyle to meet Jackson's special needs, the Fursts adopted a year-old chocolate Labrador retriever they named Wonka. Jackson and Wonka quickly formed a special bond. "Jackson would wake up and say, 'Where’s Wonka?'" recalls Susan. The natural and therapeutic benefits of the relationship between Jackson and Wonka were immediately both powerful and clear.

Jackson Hurst and Wonka
Jackson Hurst and Wonka
However, the Fursts soon noticed that Wonka seemed to be in pain and wasn't moving well. The Fursts took Wonka to a nearby veterinary practice and learned that he was suffering from severe hip dysplasia, an orthopedic disorder that afflicts many large breed dogs.

David says, "We knew we had to find a way to save Wonka once our son, who had only spoken about five or 10 words by the time he was two and a half, began saying 'Hi, Wonka!'" Determined to help the dog who was vital for Jackson's development and well-being, Jackson's mother, Susan, began looking for options. When Dr. Robert Martin, the VMRCVM's Veterinary Teaching Hospital director, learned of their plight, he responded.

Martin determined that total hip replacement was the best course of action for Wonka. A second surgery would serve to salvage the opposite hip. The surgeries would be extensive and require both time and effort to manage the dog's convalescence, but the prognosis was good.

"We obviously cannot offer total hip replacement very often for clients with limited resources, but Wonka's was a very special situation and we felt justified in helping," says Martin. "From time to time, funding is available from a charitable donation that gives us the flexibility to help out."

Longtime donors to Virginia Tech, Stuart and Freda Bullington Johnson not only have created a compassion fund, but also will help make sure that the future of veterinary medicine in the VMRCVM is secure. Their recent gift of $200,000 will help the college construct a new facility. This building will house classrooms and laboratories to ensure that the college can admit more veterinary students.
VMRCVM Director of Development Frank Pearsall says that several funds, such as the W. Stuart and Freda Bullington Johnson Animal Compassion Fund, have been established over the years by people who wish to provide resources for animals whose owners cannot afford veterinary care or for unusual circumstances. The funding cannot nearly address the enormous demand, Pearsall says, but it does provide the hospital administration with discretion in some situations.

Fortunately for the Fursts, Wonka's case was an excellent example of just what merited this kind of help. In 2006, Wonka underwent two major procedures at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. A full recovery is expected and the Furst family can look forward to years of happiness with Wonka.

This family will always remember how the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the generosity of individual donors combined to keep a very special boy and his dog together.

Jeffrey Douglas is the director of communications for the VMRCVM.

Sharing the joy
by Judith Davis

(Left to right:) Hunter, Olivia Beth, and Harrison, the children of Erik Vaughan '94, are already giving back to the community.

No question about it, cheerful giving feels good from the get-go. Just ask Harrison, Hunter, and Olivia Beth Vaughan (ages 8, 6, and 3, respectively), the children of Erik Vaughan (poultry science '94), who experienced firsthand the rewards of giving when they helped their parents deliver dozens of boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for April's emergency workers.

The Vaughan children are an example of countless families whose generosity has long benefited Virginia Tech. Individuals and multigenerational donor families often cite the influence of parents, grandparents, and others who enjoy charitable giving that reflects--and perpetuates--personal values. The best gifts--those with exceptional impact for both donor and recipient--are usually a happy combination of the right gift, at the right time, with the right results. Such gifts balance a generous heart, thoughtful consideration, and intelligent goals.

So how do Virginia Tech benefactors find that winning combination? They contact the Office of Gift Planning, where gift-planning professionals help donors explore options tailored to meet individual personal and charitable goals.

There are many ways to make a gift to a donor's chosen area of the university. The gift-planning team can help identify particular giving strategies that may be more cost-effective, better fit individual circumstances, or perhaps have greater impact than would otherwise be possible.

Gifts that pay income to donors
Some gifts create lifetime income for donors and future gifts for Virginia Tech. Such gift plans include charitable gift annuities with typical current one-life payment rates of 5.7 to 11.3 percent, charitable trusts, and deferred gift annuities. Tax advantages, income payout, and other factors vary, depending upon the individual donor and his or her selected options.

Gifts that don't touch current assets
Estate gifts have no effect on current assets and may benefit heirs. The most common estate gift is a will bequest. Other options include designating the Virginia Tech Foundation Inc. as a beneficiary of an IRA or other retirement account; this can offer significant tax advantages.

Gifts that leverage the value of appreciated assets
Gifts of appreciated real estate or appreciated securities--stocks, bonds, or mutual funds--can provide tax benefits that reduce the net cost of a gift, compared with a similar gift of cash. And the gift can go to work at Virginia Tech immediately.

Gifts that invent the future
Children like Hunter, Olivia Beth, and Harrison Vaughan are growing into an exciting future, one that is being invented at Virginia Tech today. It's a future that will continue to be shaped, in part, by charitable individuals who support the university's ever-rising standards of academic excellence, world-class research, and global outreach.

Carefully chosen, gifts can do more than help invent the future at Virginia Tech. They can also provide an income stream, tax advantages, and other donor benefits--along with the joyful experience of generosity.

For more information about these and other gift options, contact the Office of Gift Planning at 800/533-1144 or 540/231-2813 or by e-mail at

Judith Davis is publications editor for the Office of Gift Planning.

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