Virginia Tech Magazine
Virginia Tech


Vice President for Alumni Relations Tom Tillar '69
Tom Tillar '69
Our university motto, Ut Prosim, Latin for "That I May Serve," is the focus of a lot of attention, and rightly so. Service has been a hallmark and treasured value of so many Virginia Tech alumni and students since the motto was coined in the late 1890s. As the world looked on, the April 16 tragedy heightened awareness of Ut Prosim and stimulated service by alumni as a tribute to the university.

Today's students come to the university seeking service opportunities. The community-wide service day, the Big Event, begun by the Student Government Association 10 years ago, is perhaps the best example of that commitment. Approximately 7,000 students worked on more than 900 individual projects on a single day in April. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Students and student groups participate in hundreds of projects throughout the year. The Virginia Tech Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society, has raised more than $500,000 annually for the past three years, making it the highest-grossing collegiate Relay for Life in the country.

Not long ago, I attended a presentation by civil engineering students who had built a footbridge in Haiti. A river that floods at least four months of each year isolated the residents of Ti Péligre. Denying access to medical care and schools, the raging water created a physical and psychological separation for the villagers. To remedy the situation, Tech students constructed a 200-foot bridge spanning the river, completing and dedicating the project during spring break in March. The students accomplished their goal by funding the project costs of more than $20,000 and by forming a chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, an international philanthropic organization founded by Tech alumna Cheri Nice (finance '76) and her husband. The chapter, soon to be assisted by a grant from the Rotary International Foundation, plans to build a bridge each year going forward.
Footbridge built in Haiti by Virginia Tech students, March 2011
Alumni have embraced the VT-ENGAGE service initiative since the April 2007 tragedy and have conducted hundreds of service projects through various organizations and alumni chapters. Students come to Virginia Tech with community service experience in high school and apply that same spirit to engage others in projects both on campus and in communities such as hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and Mississippi and in Appalachia, South America, and the Dominican Republic.

We are inspired by the dedication to service that our alumni and students demonstrate. Ut Prosim is a phrase with real meaning for Hokies and a value they hold close and embrace beyond their college years. This commitment extends the best of Virginia Tech to the nation and world.
Vice President for Alumni Relations


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Summer 2011