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BOV approves mid-year tuition hike
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a $400 tuition increase for the spring semester, a move that will help the university minimize layoffs and program cuts in the wake of an additional budget shortfall in the commonwealth. Administrators say that the tuition increase, along with restructuring and reallocation, will allow the university to move ahead and remain focused on quality. This tuition increase follows on the heels of a 9 percent increase enacted at the beginning of the current semester.

"Our approach has been to protect the quality and integrity of our programs while maintaining flexibility for our students," says President Charles Steger. "Further deep cuts would have made classes unbearably large, forced the elimination of many degree programs, and made course availability aggravating for students."

The board also approved changing the name of the College of Human Resources and Education to the College of Human Sciences and Education to better reflect the college's disciplines and post-graduate degree program offerings in the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. TOP

Tech to help launch Nile University
Virginia Tech has been awarded a $1.4-million grant from the United States Agency for International Development to help Planning and Learning Technologies, Inc. and Pricewaterhouse-Coopers create a technology university in Egypt. Tech will help the new school--to be called Nile University--design graduate and professional education programs, develop its curriculum, recruit faculty, and procure equipment.

The new university will be devoted exclusively to information technology and will emphasize professional development and graduate studies. Virginia Tech's Office of International Research and Development and International Institute for Information Technology helped coordinate the project.TOP

Tech and UVa to create National Institute of Aerospace
Virginia Tech and UVa are leading a consortium selected by NASA to create the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), a research and education collaboration with a potential for $379 million in grants over the next 20 years. Malcolm McPherson, interim dean of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, says, "Our consortium will team with the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton to do the most advanced aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation, and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers." Other university members of the consortium are the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and University of Maryland-College Park.TOP

Student receives Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship
Aaron Barr, a junior studying engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, is among the first recipients of an undergraduate scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The scholarship is worth up to $30,000 a year. In this first year of the program, the foundation has presented undergraduate scholarships to 79 students. Barr is one of six recipients at Virginia colleges and universities. In May, two Virginia Tech seniors--Sarah Hupp and Rebecca Weber--were among the first 50 students to receive graduate scholarships from the foundation. The late Jack Kent Cooke, who built a media empire and owned the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Redskins, set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the foundation.TOP

Three departments honored for student advising
The departments of biology, animal and poultry science, and mining and minerals engineering received the 2002 Exemplary Department Awards for their high quality of student advising at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Office of the Provost established the awards program in 1994 to recognize departments and programs that maintain outstanding teaching and learning environments for students and faculty. A different focus for the awards is chosen each year; last year's award recognized departments for introductory courses. This marks the second exemplary department award for advising received by the Department of Animal Sciences and the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering.TOP

Darwin's letters sent to Galapagos Islands
The letters of Charles Darwin are being returned to the place where his theory of evolution took shape. Tech biology professor Duncan Porter, director of The Darwin Correspondence Project, which has published 12 of a projected 32-volume set of Darwin's letters, is sending those published volumes to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos. Darwin conducted a great deal of the research leading to his theory of evolution by exploring the plant and animal life of the volcanic islands.TOP

Dairy Club named No. 1
For the first time since 1994, the Virginia Tech Dairy Club was named the top student club at the American Dairy Science Association Student Affiliate Meeting in July. The Tech club has now captured this honor 11 times since 1980. Judges looked at such indicators as membership, club activities, and participation at student affiliate meetings. In addition, Ray Nebel, professor of dairy science, was named outstanding adviser in the national organization. The club and its members were also singled out for several other awards.TOP

Students win second in aviation design competition
Twenty-six engineering students from Virginia Tech and Loughborough University in England won second place for technology innovation in the 2002 NASA/FAA Student Aviation Design Competition. The competition required students to design a safer, faster, and less expensive aircraft that could fly directly from one small airport to another. The Tech and Loughborough students designed an airplane that can take off and land on a runway about half the length of a football field and can also travel at 160 miles per hour, which is as fast as most general aviation planes. Virginia Tech has been collaborating with Loughborough for the competition since 1997. TOP

Robertson and Künstler create Virginia Tech limited-edition set
Fans of James I. Robertson Jr., a Civil War historian at Virginia Tech, and Mort Künstler, a Civil War artist, will soon be able to purchase a limited-edition collaborative work by the two internationally noted men, along with a special print of a new Künstler painting.

Robertson, who is Alumni Distinguished Professor of History and executive director of Tech's Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, and Künstler, whose work has been commissioned by the U. S. Postal Service for a postage stamp, have already worked together on several books and calendars. They have now produced the book Gods and Generals, the companion piece to the movie of the same name. The book was commissioned by Warner Brothers, which also produced the movie. Robertson served as historical consultant for the movie, tentatively scheduled for release in February 2003.

The regular edition of the book made its national debut at Tech's Volume II Bookstore on Oct. 19. The Virginia Tech special edition, which will be limited to 150 copies, will be leather-bound and gilt-edged and will bear the university seal. Each copy of the limited-edition book will be accompanied by a limited edition giclée, a print on canvas, of Künstler's new Stonewall Jackson painting "Divine Guidance."

The cost of the numbered books and giclées is $450, and sets are being sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Proceeds from the sale of this historical edition set will support programs of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.

Künstler and Robertson will sign their work during a special event in February or March. Information about the event will be posted on the Civil War center's Web site as soon as plans are finalized.

To reserve a copy of the book and giclée, please send your name, address, telephone number, and payment in full (make checks out to the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies) to: Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, 431 Major Williams Hall (0117), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.TOP


Genome work may prevent spread of malaria
Every year, malaria kills more than a million people and sickens millions more. Researchers hoping to prevent the disease by controlling the genes of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which transmits the parasite that causes malaria, have completed the first draft of its genome sequence. More than 100 researchers contributed to this effort, including Virginia Tech's Zhijian (Jake) Tu, assistant professor of biochemistry; graduate student Jim Biedler; and postdoctoral associate Hongguang Shao. The Tech researchers helped characterize transposable elements (TEs), segments of nucleic acids that move around the genome and have a significant impact on its structure or size. Tu and his colleagues expect that TEs may be used to introduce new genes into the A. gambiae genome, such as a gene that blocks transmission of disease into the mosquito. They are also studying the genes of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, yellow fever, and the West Nile virus. TOP

Researchers to decode "plant devourer" genomes
The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute received $2.3 million from the USDA and the National Science Foundation and $1.5 million from the Department of Energy Office of Science to sequence the genomes of two species of Phytophthora, a plant pathogen whose name means "plant devourer." Phytophthora, which attacks a vast number of plants, including soybean, cacao, potatoes, and forest trees, costs the agriculture, forestry, and nursery industries hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Decoding the genome sequences will allow researchers to identify and target the vulnerabilities of the two species of Phytophthora pathogens.TOP

DOE award supports coal project
A $1.1-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will support the Center for Photonics Technology's (CPT) ongoing efforts to develop sensors that can be used in plants that convert coal to electricity. The research team, led by CPT director Anbo Wang and associate director Gary Pickrell, is developing single-crystal, sapphire-based sensors that can operate reliably in the high temperature and corrosive environment of integrated gasification and combined cycle plants. The single-crystal sapphire has proven to be effective in high-temperature applications due to its high melting point, superior transparency, and ability to resist corrosion. TOP

Professor develops non-native species control strategies
Jim Parkhurst, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife, has been developing strategies for controlling non-native species in American ecosystems. Parkhurst's system does not rely on chemicaltreatment to reduce and prevent the invasion of these species; instead, it is designed to be used by government agencies and citizens. Some experts estimate that in the U.S. about 4,600 acres per day fall victim to the negative effects of non-native species. Parkhurst says his strategies will minimize this damage. TOP

Students win categories in first Solar Decathlon
A team of Virginia Tech students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering brought home first prize in the "Getting Around" and "Design Presentation and Simulation" categories in the first Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. They also received the BP Solar Innovation Award for their use of materials and systems. The Tech team finished fifth overall in the competition, in which teams from 14 major universities designed and built solar homes.

The student teams assembled their houses on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from Sept. 20-Oct. 4. A panel of experts judged the teams on the design and construction of the houses, including communications efforts and Web sites. The "Getting Around" category evaluated how much "extra" energy a competition house generated that could be used to power a street-legal, commercially available electric vehicle. For more on Tech's house and car, go to

Another Tech connection: The contest site design was created by the university's Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. TOP