• Winter 2012-13

    Volume 35, Number 2

    Virginia Tech Magazine, winter 2012-13
  • The power of mentoring

    Tom Tillar '69

    In a recent Alumni Factor survey that included 104 national universities, Virginia Tech ranked fourth in overall assessment and first among alumni who said the university is one they "would personally choose again." Quite a feather in our cap, I'd say. One reason for the strong affinity may be something I have long paid particular attention to: the mentoring relationships between faculty and students. Such established bonds inspire students later, as alumni, to remain connected to endeared professors. I'll share two examples that illustrate the commitment of faculty to go beyond their job expectations and invest significantly in students.

    In October, Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English and a nationally acclaimed poet, hosted a magnificent tribute to her dear friend and novelist Toni Morrison, recipient of a Nobel Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That event, which also included poet Maya Angelou, is described earlier in this issue. One not-yet-famous poet who attended the event was one of Giovanni's former students, Jonathan Pfaehler (English '10). He traveled to campus for the mid-week commemoration of Morrison, whom he knew to be a mentor of his mentor. Pfaehler was once a finalist for the Steger Poetry Prize that Giovanni created—the nation's largest cash prize for a student poetry contest. Now a consultant with the World Bank in Washington, D.C., he remains in touch with Giovanni and describes her as "my most inspiring professor and friend." Said Pfaehler, "I learned to express myself in poetry through Giovanni's inspiration."

    Scott Geller, Alumni Distinguished Professor in Psychology, has been a teacher and researcher at the university for 43 years. Like Giovanni, he has touched students' lives and inspired them to hone their career paths. Shane McCarty (marketing '11) became Geller's student in 2008. McCarty had visited the campus the weekend prior to the April 16 tragedy in 2007 and said he accepted the university's offer of admission the very next week "because of the amazing resilience shown by the entire Hokie Nation."

    Inspired by Geller's classes and the opportunity to conduct research, McCarty, a marketing major, later added psychology as a minor. He designed a research study investigating bullying behaviors among elementary students and used the "Actively Caring for People" wrist bands that Geller had created 20 years earlier. The wrist bands served as positive incentives for students to reduce bullying. Today, McCarty is a Ph.D. student of Geller's and is continuing his research on bullying. McCarty joined Geller and others to author a book, "Actively Caring for People: Cultivating a Culture of Compassion." Said McCarty, "Professor Geller brought clarity to my career goals and inspiration that only a true mentor could bring."

    Pfaehler and McCarty agree they have benefited from mentoring by faculty who represent a commitment to teach, advise, challenge, and inspire students. Mentoring is one of the attributes that help make Virginia Tech a special place—a place alumni would personally choose again.

    Tom Tillar '69
    Vice President for Alumni Relations

    Winter 2012-13

    Sheer Good Fortune: Literary stars shine brightly at Virginia Tech event

    Welcome to Racksburg

    Virginia Tech and the 21st-Century Land-Grant Model

    Dream Design

  • Go to digital edition   View or download PDF

    2013 Drillfield Series

    The Drillfield Series continues in 2013 with weekends devoted to photography, fine dining, student legacies, and special programs for corps and women alumni. Make plans now to attend these events designed for alumni and their families, and take advantage of the specially discounted accommodations available at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

    Feb. 15-17
    Food for Thought: An Indulgence of Wine and Fine Cuisine

    Looking for an elegant getaway over Valentine’s Day weekend? Return home to your alma mater and enjoy a stay at The Inn at Virginia Tech for a palate-pleasing weekend. Program highlights include a dessert and sparkling wine reception, chef demonstrations, a Mediterranean food and wine pairing, and an aperitif reception and five-course dinner with wine pairing. $300 per couple/$165 individual.

    May 10-11
    Focus on Photography 2013

    Whether you're a point-and-shoot photographer or a seasoned one with the latest DSLR camera, year three of this popular program can take your photography to the next level. Instructors will cover processing and editing, shooting and editing video, and topics geared toward individual interests and skills. A reception and most meals are included. $175 per person.

    June 21-23
    Corps of Cadets Alumni Weekend

    Calling all cadet alumni! Come enjoy Tech's campus in summer and reunite with former cadets. Program highlights include a barbecue at the alumni center, a shooting-range contest and paintball, a Civil War presentation, reflections from veterans, and a briefing from the commandant. Meet student cadets, and possibly learn how to help the corps in your hometowns. $150 per person.

    July 12-13
    Virginia Tech Admissions Weekend

    Our annual "Day in the Life of College Admissions" is designed especially to assist 2014 and 2015 high school graduates and their parents in navigating the college application process. Program highlights include pointers for conducting a college search, a behind-the-scenes look at college admissions, application preparation tips, and information on scholarships and financial aid. $120 per adult/$95 per student.

    July 19-21
    Women's Getaway Weekend for Alumnae

    Bring friends or former classmates for a fun-filled weekend in Blacksburg! Relax, revive, and reminisce. Take some time for yourself and indulge in a weekend especially designed for women. Program highlights include a tapas and wine reception, massages, recreational activities, a champagne brunch, insightful sessions for today's woman, and a dinner with special guests. $150 per person.

    *Lodging for all these events at The Inn at Virginia Tech is $105 per room, per night.

    More details on events and registration »

    Virginia Tech Columbarium

    Many campuses have a columbarium where alumni and others from an extended university family may choose to be interred. Virginia Tech's columbarium is located on the grounds adjacent to the Holtzman Alumni Center, on a grassy knoll in view of the Duck Pond.

    The Hokie Stone structure contains 60 niches that may be purchased and reserved for individual or dual interments. Each niche is covered with a maroon granite face, on which names will be engraved and gold-filled. Behind the columbarium, there is a terrace and recently added benches, and a walkway leads to the alumni center's Alumni Terrace. The area is designed to accommodate expansion of additional niche walls bordering the terrace.

    Niches are being reserved now, and many are still available. Internments began in 2010. For more information on the Virginia Tech columbarium, contact Josh Burnheimer at 540-231-6285 or

    Columbarium at Virginia Tech

    Alumni Association Board of Directors ballot

    The Alumni Board of Directors nominating committee has proposed the following nominees for election to three-year terms from 2013 through 2016. Please vote for up to 12 nominees and return the ballot by April 1. Results will be announced at the board meeting in late April.

    ___ Lisa C. Ellison (finance '86), Inverness, Ill.
    ___ A. Jerome Fowlkes (finance '88), South Riding, Va.
    ___ Kathleen K. Frazier (agricultural and applied economics, political science '04), Midlothian, Va.
    ___ William M. Furrer (English '91), Georgetown, Texas
    ___ Travis E. Hardy (geography '01), Leesburg, Va.
    ___ Mark S. Lawrence (management '80), Roanoke, Va.
    ___ W. Park Lemmond (business administration '54), Petersburg, Va.
    ___ Brian C. Montgomery (industrial systems engineering '03), Djursholm, Sweden
    ___ Melissa B. Nelson (finance '92), Richmond, Va.
    ___ James P. O’Connell (biochemistry '97), Downington, Pa.
    ___ Judy M. Springer (international studies '95), Woolwich Township, N.J.
    ___Kai M. Zuehlke (engineering science and mechanics '05), Atlanta, Ga.

    Write-in Nomination ______________________________________________________

    Signature _______________________________________________________________

    Return to: Virginia Tech Alumni Association, Holtzman Alumni Center (0102), 901 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061

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