Virginia Tech Magazine
Around the Drillfield
Summer 2009

Winistorfer named dean of College of Natural Resources
Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee announced in April that Paul Winistorfer, who currently heads the College of Natural Resources' Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, will assume the duties of dean on Aug. 1, when Mike Kelly steps down. Kelly has served the college in this post for the past five years.
Paul Winistorfer
Winistorfer came to the College of Natural Resources in 2001 from the Forest Products Center at the University of Tennessee to head up the wood science and forest products department. Winistorfer's contributions toward advancing the department include the creation of the popular Wood Week at Virginia Tech and his service as co-leader for a biomaterials faculty recruitment initiative with other departments and colleges on campus. Winistorfer also provided vision and leadership in the department's $20 million development initiative for new infrastructure, as well as an educational project linking the department to the commonwealth's community colleges and higher education centers to promote workforce and economic development.
Norris Hall second floor reopened
2009 Commencement at Virginia Tech
A brief ceremony on April 10 marked the reopening of the west wing of the second floor of Norris Hall. President Charles Steger, Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee, Professor and Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics Head Ishwar Puri, and Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention Director Jerzy Nowak all made remarks at the ceremony. The Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics and the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention will occupy the six new rooms and laboratories located on the west wing of the second floor. Those spaces are the Global Technology Center, meeting and administrative space for the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, a gathering space for student team projects, the IDEAS Undergraduate Learning Center, a biomechanics laboratory, and the Biomechanics Cluster Research Center. For more information, go to
Student team wins national mining competition

A team of students from the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech recently won first place at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME) / National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association Student Design Competition. The team won a $2,000 cash prize, as well as products donated by InfoMine USA Inc. A second team of students, also from Virginia Tech's Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, earned fifth place. The competition was part of SME's 2009 Annual Meeting and Exhibit in Denver. It marks the second consecutive year that the College of Engineering placed two teams in the finals, as well as the second year in a row that Virginia Tech has captured the top spot at the competition. In addition to the cash prize and equipment, the first-place team was invited that day to present a technical session to industry professionals, university faculty, and student peers attending the conference.

Composting program helping to reduce waster

A partnership begun Jan. 20 between Dining Services and Poplar Manor Enterprises (PME) had reduced the weekly waste at the Southgate Food Processing Center by as much as 2.5 tons as of April. Each week, the center saves all compostable pre-consumer waste, including chopped vegetables, peelings, and cores, which is then taken by PME staff members to the PME facility in Riner, Va., to begin a six-month process that converts the waste into compost. The drastic reduction in waste has led the university to expand its composting program to include post-consumer waste as well, naming Owens Food Court as the location for its pilot program. The composting program is part of a larger Dining Services initiative to explore sustainable alternatives to current practices.

Fleet Services makes the switch to biodiesel

As part of its Green Fleet Initiative and in an effort to meet customer's demand for alternative fuel sources, Virginia Tech Fleet Services will begin using B-10 biodiesel for diesel powered vehicles. The B-10 mixture, which will be supplied through APB Whiting, is a combination of 10 percent biodiesel and 90 percent regular diesel. Biodiesel has successfully completed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health testing under the Clean Air Act and has shown to significantly reduce the harmful emissions that are common in standard diesel usage. Fleet Services will continue to use B10 in the coming years; however, due to the cold-flow properties, it might not be used during the winter months.

Marching Virginians build house in honor of Ryan Clark
Eco-friendly home built by Marching Virginians
In May, the Marching Virginians, Town of Blacksburg, and Community Housing Partners teamed up to build a home for a family in Blacksburg in honor of former Marching Virginians band member Ryan Clark, who lost his life on April 16, 2007. As a student, Clark volunteered for such service projects as Hurricane Katrina relief and Habitat for Humanity. Band Director David McKee says that the Marching Virginians wanted to build the house in the spirit of continuing Clark's compassion and charity. Between the end of the fall 2008 football season and May, the Marching Virginians raised more than $41,000 for the project. The Town of Blacksburg and Community Housing Partners, a regional non-profit housing and community-development company, contributed funds, supplies, labor, and technical expertise. Community Housing Partners also provided a parcel of land on Cedar Hill Drive, where the eco-friendly home was constructed.

Eco-friendly home built by Marching Virginians
Virginia Tech invited to compete in international decathlon

Virginia Tech is one of only two universities from the United States that was invited to compete in the first Solar Decathlon Europe, to be held in Madrid, Spain, in June 2010. The Solar Decathlon Europe competition, in which 21 college and university teams from around the world will compete, is modeled on the biennial U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon. In these decathlons, each team designs and builds a self-sufficient house using solar power as the only source of energy. For the European competition, houses will be designed according to the concept of responsive architecture, adapting both to climate changes and user requirements via the simplicity of an iPhone interface.

Lumenhaus in construction

The Virginia Tech team will submit the house they are currently developing for the U.S. DOE Solar Decathlon in October 2009. Students working on the house hail from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Pamplin College of Business.

Follow the house's progress on Facebook at

In the 2005 U.S. DOE Solar Decathlon competition, the Virginia Tech team won first place in four categories--Best Livability, Best Architecture, Best Day Lighting, and Best Electric Lighting--and garnered fourth overall. The house later won the American Institute of Architects President's Award for Best House.

More than 5,200 honored at Commencement ceremonies
2009 Commencement at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech held its 2009 University Commencement ceremony on May 15. Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith, a graduate of the Pamplin College of Business who served as commander for the U.S. Joint Forces Command and as NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, delivered the keynote address to an estimated 33 associate's degree and 4,011 bachelor's degree candidates. Businessman, philanthropist, and former ambassador Nicholas Frank Taubman addressed 1,201 graduate and professional degree candidates at the Graduate Commencement ceremony. The 29th National Capital Region (NCR) Commencement ceremony was held May 17 at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va. Shelley Duke, owner and manager of Rallywood Farm in Middleburg, Va., addressed approximately 300 NCR graduates.

This year, the most popular major for graduating undergraduates was mechanical engineering. Biology and marketing followed in second and third places, respectively. The fourth most popular major was psychology, followed by human nutrition, foods, and exercise; finance; and communication.

Chemistry-Physics Building named for former university president
Hahn Hall-North Wing
The Chemistry-Physics Building, where thousands of students take courses in physics, chemistry, or microbiology, has been named for T. Marshall Hahn Jr., who as president of the institution from 1962 to 1974 spearheaded some of the most significant changes in the university's history. By fully opening enrollment to women, eliminating the requirement that male freshmen and sophomores be in the corps of cadets, and reorganizing the institution's colleges, Hahn transformed the college then known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI) into a comprehensive research university that, today, is Virginia's leading research university.

Enrollment nearly tripled during Hahn's tenure, increasing from 6,358 students to 17,470, which led to the construction of new residence halls and academic buildings and the renovation and enlargement of many other facilities. Lane Stadium, Cowgill Hall, and Slusher Hall are just a few of the prominent buildings added to campus during Hahn's 12 years as president. Other firsts under Hahn included the hiring of a black faculty member, the graduation of a black woman, and the opening of the corps of cadets to women.

The 85,000-square-foot Chemistry-Physics Building is the second building to be named for Hahn and will be known as Hahn Hall-North Wing. An adjacent, 71,000-square-foot building was named for Hahn in 1990 and is used mainly for chemistry research. That building will now be called Hahn Hall-South Wing.

Ecological Intelligence selected for Common Book Project
Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Former New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman's latest work, Ecological Intelligence, has been selected for Virginia Tech's Common Book Project for the 2009-10 academic year. Now in its 10th year, the Common Book Project gives incoming first-year and transfer undergraduate students a common academic experience during their first year at Virginia Tech. Ron Daniel, associate provost for undergraduate education and a member of this year's book selection committee, says that the consensus was that the theme of ecological awareness and environmental sustainability would offer numerous options for faculty to incorporate it into their course work. In Ecological Intelligence, Goleman explains why we as shoppers have found it impossible to know the true range of harmful environmental and health consequences of our purchases and how both individuals and companies fail to consider the true impact our actions have on the environment and our own health.

VTCC cadets at the gravesite of O.M. Stull in Lexington, Va.

by Amy Boyce M.A. '97

1896 was a good year for Virginia Tech.

That was the year the Virginia legislature changed the institution's name from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. After that, the school was popularly known as VPI. That was also the year the college adopted its motto and seal and the school colors of Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange. Perhaps the most influential change occurred when the school held a contest for a new spirit yell.

The ranking cadet officer that year was O.M. Stull of Lexington, Va. He wrote the winning cheer, "Old Hokie," and gave us a tradition that lasts to this day. On March 20, 2009, the Roanoke Valley Hokie Club honored Stull with a memorial stone and plaque placed at Stull's grave at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington.

Three generations of Stull's family attended the event, held on a perfect early spring day. Also attending were members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Honor Guard. The cadet presence was important, said Ut Prosim Society member Don Huffman (engineering '50), "because many of us have been cadets and we all marched to this cheer."

Brian Wilson (management '79), president of the Roanoke Valley Hokie Club, which sponsored the memorial, remarked that he used to get lots of questions from people wanting to know about Blacksburg and Virginia Tech. These days, Virginia Tech has made its mark and the questions are less frequent. But one he still gets is "What is a Hokie?" Stull's cheer answers that question. "It is my honor to dedicate this memorial to O. M. Stull," said Wilson at the dedication.

Huffman was the driving force behind the memorial and chaired the committee that made it happen. Huffman, a Lexington native, knew Stull in the 1950s when both men attended meetings of the Rockbridge County alumni group. A few years ago, while visiting the graves of his parents, who are also buried in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Huffman noticed Stull's grave and thought the man who wrote "Old Hokie" needed to be recognized for his contribution to the Hokie Nation.

That recognition is now a reality. The 500-lb. Hokie Stone memorial, cut from Virginia Tech's quarry, sports a bronze plaque recognizing Stull and his cheer.

Committee members Jay Rule (mechanical engineering '75, Ph.D. '89), Al Hardy (agronomy '53), Wally Newton (management '71, M.B.A. '72), and John Rokisky (forestry and wildlife '77) played a critical part in getting the memorial in place. Robert L. Faulkner & Son of Rockbridge County, Va., installed the stone.

Amy Boyce M.A. '97 is publications manager for University Development.


Gene Fife (business '62) was the 2009 recipient of Virginia Tech's most prestigious award, the William H. Ruffner Medal. The Ruffner Medal is awarded annually to a person with outstanding achievement in efforts devoted to the promotion, improvement, and development of the university's mission.

As a student, Fife was a member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and a captain in the Highty-Tighties, as well as a member of multiple honorary societies. He remains involved with the university as a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation Board of Directors and its executive committee. Fife also chaired the quiet phase of the current $1 billion Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future and, along with his wife, Anne, is a member of the President's Circle of the Ut Prosim Society, the university's highest level of donor recognition.

Fife, who has an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California, was named chairman of Goldman Sachs International in 1988. Fife joined the Goldman Sachs Management Committee in 1990 and continued to hold that position, along with his chairmanship, until he retired in 1995. Fife remains a senior director at the company; is the founding principal of the Vawter Capital private investment firm; is a member of the board of directors of Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, and industrial gas turbines; and is the non-executive chairman of Eclipsys Corporation, a health information technology company.


Virginia Tech awarded its 2009 University Distinguished Achievement Award to Henry Long (business administration '59). The award is presented each spring Commencement to a man or woman of national distinction in a field of enduring significance to society.

At Virginia Tech, Long was an active member of the corps of cadets, including producing an informational booklet for incoming freshmen and a film, "Molders of Men," that was shown on television and at high school functions. He also worked at the campus radio station, wrote for the student newspaper, and was military editor of the 1959 edition of The Bugle.

After graduation, Long flew B-47s with the Strategic Air Command until retiring from the Air Force as a captain in 1965, though he continues to pilot light airplanes and helicopters. In 1968, Long and Wes Foster founded what would become the nation's largest privately held real estate brokerage firm, Long and Foster. Long sold his half of the company to Foster in 1979, and created the Henry A. Long Company to pursue commercial development. Long currently serves on the regional campaign committee for Northern Virginia for the $1 billion Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future.


The Alumni Association bestowed its 2009 Alumni Distinguished Service awards on Marni Byrum (political science '76), Patricia Caldwell (mathematics '71), and John Higginbotham (civil and environmental engineering '77). These annual awards recognize outstanding service to the university and the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.

Marni Byrum '76 Byrum, who earned her law degree from Pepperdine University, is an attorney in private practice with emphasis on labor and employment law. She has remained involved with Virginia Tech by serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the President's Advisory Committee, and the Economic Development Advisory Board. Byrum also serves on the College of Science Roundtable and is a member of the Northern Virginia Regional Campaign Committee and the Pylon Society. She has held leadership roles with the Virginia State Bar and is a past president of the Arlington County Bar Association, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, and the Virginia 4-H Foundation. Byrum currently serves on the boards of Horizons Theatre, which focuses on producing women playwrights and promoting women theatre artists, and Equality Virginia, a nonpartisan education and advocacy group that seeks equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Virginians.
Patricia Caldwell '71 Caldwell, who holds an M.B.A. from the University at Albany, has more than 30 years experience in commercial and investment banking. In 1988, she and three partners founded Gordian Group LLC, a financial advisory services firm that specializes in complex and distressed situations and assists clients in numerous industries nationwide. Caldwell is a fourth-generation Hokie. Her strong commitment to Virginia Tech includes serving as a long-time member of the College of Science Roundtable, formerly the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Roundtable, as well as the Virginia Tech Foundation Board of Directors, the Department of Mathematics Advisory Board, and the Quiet Phase Campaign Steering Committee. Currently, Caldwell is a member of the College of Science Campaign Steering Committee and the Women and Leadership in Philanthropy Council. In recognition of her exceptional service, Caldwell received the first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Science.
John Higginbotham '77 Higginbotham, who attended Virginia Tech as a recipient of the Alumni Presidential Scholarship, also holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors at Integral Systems Inc., a provider of satellite ground systems, and serves on the board of directors of ProtoStar Ltd. The former chairman and a director emeritus of the Space Foundation, Higginbotham is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics Astronautics. In 2007, he received the National Space Society Space Finance Award. Higginbotham has served Virginia Tech as president of the Alumni Association and as a member of the Engineering Committee of 100 and the Alumni Center National Leadership Campaign Committee. He also has strongly advocated for both Virginia Tech and higher education through the Hokies for Higher Education network. As a student, Higginbotham helped found Student Alumni Associates, the student arm of the Alumni Association, and served as its first president.

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