Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Magazine


Summer  LETTERS to the EDITOR  2010
I would like to praise Denise Young and the staff at Virginia Tech Magazine for having the courage to publish the article in the recent issue (Spring 2010) titled "Tearing Down Animal House." As a 48-year-old mother with plans of sending my 10th-grader and 8th-grader away to Virginia universities in a couple years, I was impressed that Virginia Tech had the audacity to print the truth about alcohol use and problems at their own school. Obviously, I am disappointed in the widespread use of alcohol in our high schools and universities, but I am thankful that Tech is doing many things to try to educate students: using a harm-reduction model, focusing on high-risk groups, counseling emotional issues, and utilizing the motivational interviewing model to focus students on examining their behavior and making better choices.

I agree that it takes the students, school staff, community, and parents working together to reduce the use and/or the risks of alcohol. I am so proud to be an alumna of a great school that does not try to hide such important issues, but instead is addressing them directly to try to improve this serious problem.

Kudos to Virginia Tech Magazine!

Sherry H. Watkins '84 | Centreville, Va.

I couldn't resist sending you this photo of my new grandson and his little buddy. On the left is Joseph Coolick, and Charlie Taylor is on the right. They were born several days apart in November 2009, and were about six weeks old in the photo. Their moms are good friends and were Chi Omega sisters at Tech--Ann Marie Ferramosca Coolick ('02 art, '03 marketing) and Christine Stora Taylor ('03 urban planning). Their stocking caps said "L'il Hokie," and were made by my wife, Cathy Murray Ferramosca '75.

Tim Ferramosca '73 | Virginia Beach, Va.

 Little Hokies. Joseph Coolick and Charlie Taylor
These little Hokies were either hungry or steaming mad to learn the Hokies were excluded from the NCAA basketball tourney.
Hokie flip-flops on Waikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii For my sister Dory's (Dory Pratt Gordon '81) 50th birthday, I gave her a pair of Hokie flip-flops to take to Hawaii, where she celebrated her birthday on Aug. 21, 2009, with her family--also the exact day of the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood. She made sure that Hokie tracks were left in the sands of Hawaii's beautiful beaches. The photo was taken at Waikiki Beach on Oahu.

Janine Pratt '80 | Cheltenham, Pa.

I want to let you know how much I enjoyed Clara Cox's article on Hokie Stone in the [Spring 2010] Virginia Tech Magazine. It brought back memories of many sessions of the board of visitors' buildings and grounds committee. It was several years ago that you were covering the committee meetings for the Spectrum. During the 16 years after 1983, several battles were undertaken on the direction of architecture on the campus, and I was fortunate to be involved in the majority of them.

Restoring the traditional architectural theme and style of the campus and affirming the future use of Hokie Stone was a challenge and one of our greatest achievements. The university should know that without Ray Smoot's steady leadership and oversight of the process, this could have never happened. Ray had to deal with a number of diverse constituencies. Some wanted the campus to go modern, some postmodern, and some wanted to fill all the open space around the Drillfield. By Ray's skillful management of the construction program and his ability to work with the buildings and grounds committee, we still have one of the more beautiful campuses in the country.

Cecil Maxson '52 | Richmond, Va.

I continue to read and enjoy Clara Cox's journalistic work. I was especially delighted with the piece on Earle B. Norris. I date back to his era. He retired as dean of engineering the year I received my B.S. Back then, VPI had a number of unique faculty (each with a notable personality) who were strongly devoted to teaching as opposed to building layer upon layer of academic laurels. Their credentials were quite natural. I have the dean's signature in my "steam tables," a much-used book from my undergraduate days in mechanical engineering. Norris was also a mechanical engineer--and initiates for Pi Tau Sigma, the honorary mechanical engineering society, were required to obtain the signatures of all current faculty and student members at the time of the new member's initiation.

H.J. "Jack" Heikkenen, a retired entomology professor, delighted in telling me the following story. Whenever he told me that he lived at 802 Preston Ave., they invariably said, "Oh, you live in the Norris house." Jack would loudly proclaim, "I have now lived there 20 years. When does it become the Heikkenen house?" Just another tale from old Blacksburg.

Roger Hedgepeth '52 | Blacksburg, Va.

I want to congratulate Clara B. Cox on her excellent biography on Dean Norris. It was his establishing of two-year engineering courses at various locations in Virginia that enabled me to earn an engineering degree at Virginia Tech. I was a student at the Bluefield branch under Professor Clarence Trent.

John A. Gardner '44 | Tulsa, Okla.

I read Meghan Williams's article in the spring issue of Virginia Tech Magazine with great interest. It was good to read about a friend and excellent servant of Virginia Tech, Ray Smoot.

I thought the issues and interests that drove the article's subjects to want to serve Virginia Tech by being the student body president certainly mirrored mine when I was a junior and decided to run. I can still remember Garland Rigney talking to me about running when I had never considered it, and I thought I must be out of my mind. I just wanted to graduate out of the engineering program, move on, etc.

But truly there have many times since 1968 when I've looked back and thought that was the best year of my time at Tech. I learned more about myself and others, I think I helped in some small way shape the future of Tech, I met many people who influenced me to keep reaching for goals and always striving to do better, and I was there at a time of significant change for the university.

I was proud to have my name listed with all of the others who have served the university so unselfishly. Thanks for writing the article.

Bill Coulbourne '68 | Dewey Beach, Del.

Since I am a '93 graduate and have a husband who's a "Hokie by marriage" to me, my family honored Virginia Tech on April 16, 2010, while vacationing at Disney World.  It was a wonderful feeling to support my alma mater and have the public embrace our Hokie Spirit that day in Epcot. We thought you'd enjoy seeing us in our Hokie Spirit at Epcot/Disney. Thanks for all the outreach and great information you all provide us!

Kristin Metz Mentz '93 | Columbia, Md.

Rob and Kristin Metz Mentz with their children, Chloe, 6, and Trevor, 2.
Rob and Kristin Metz Mentz with their
children, Chloe, 6, and Trevor, 2.
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