Virginia Tech Magazine
President's Message
Winter 2009

Zenobia Hikes and her impact on the undergraduate experience by Charles W. Steger '69

On Oct. 27, the Virginia Tech community learned that Vice President for Student Affairs Zenobia Lawrence Hikes had died from complications following cardiac surgery. The loss of Zenobia is especially sad not only because of its suddenness and her relative youth, but also because, for many of us, she represented the transformative power of the Hokie experience. It was Zenobia who helped to organize and emcee the moving convocation held on April 17, 2007, which offered comfort and hope to a grief-stricken community.

Within weeks of her arrival at Virginia Tech in 2005, Zenobia demonstrated a clear understanding of the special spirit that wells up from within our university's walls, and she tapped into that spirit in her devotion to the constituency that she loved most deeply: our students.

She was the perfect role model for today's students and tomorrow's leaders. Her verve, her dedication, and her zest for life engaged and inspired us all. Zenobia spent hour after hour talking with students, curious about how they viewed their world and their experience here, and she showed no fear in tackling the pressing issues of the day, whether it be student alcohol abuse or campus climate. She created "Hokie Camp," a summer experience for first-year students to build community, foster university traditions, and fuel the nascent Hokie spirit that so clearly moved her.

We all take pride in the Virginia Tech experience, one that is made possible by the communal, small-college feel of our campus and our focus on educating the "whole person." It is here that we encounter many people and ideas different from our own in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. It is here that we learn, sometimes for the first time, the value of leadership, community service, and teamwork. And it is here that we develop strong friendships still cherished after many decades. This experience is made possible largely through student-life programming. Dr. Zenobia Lawrence Hikes

As Virginia Tech alumni, you have known and experienced this camaraderie, the bonds that began growing shortly after your arrival on campus and, hopefully, continue to this day. Thanks to the spirit and energy with which Zenobia Hikes imbued the campus community, I know that many current students will feel that same camaraderie.

Zenobia Hikes didn't create the Hokie experience. However, she understood it, nurtured it, and improved it. We at Virginia Tech are stronger and more understanding because of her.

Virginia Tech