Virginia Tech faculty, staff give selflessly of their time, resources

In true embodiment of the university’s motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), thousands of Virginia Tech faculty and staff devote their time, talents, and resources to community organizations and the university.

As part of the university’s service-learning curriculum, many employees work in cooperation with students each year, building bridges in third world countries and helping communities become sustainable. Some employees help students move onto campus each fall. Others spend nights and weekends volunteering in their communities, and many serve in leadership positions on nonprofit boards throughout the state.

   

Edward Spencer, the former vice president for student affairs, prepares to work alongside students in The Big Event. Edward Spencer, the former vice president for student affairs, prepares to work alongside students in The Big Event.

Betty Watts is an administrative assistant to the associate vice president for international affairs and works part-time as a projectionist at The Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Va. She also spends much of her free time at volunteering at The Lyric.

“I've always been a volunteer wherever I have lived because I feel it's important to give of yourself to the community, but I have never enjoyed working anywhere as much as I do at the Lyric,” Watts said. “It is such an integral part of Blacksburg and the surrounding area.”

Keith Moore, associate director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program, spends much of his time advising communities worldwide on how best to manage their agricultural resources.

At home, he said he finds his role as a volunteer on the town of Blacksburg’s Greenway/Bikeway/Sidewalk/Corridor Committee to be both professionally stimulating and personally gratifying. The committee promotes the preservation, use, and expansion of the town’s alternative transportation corridors.

“It’s all about improving the quality of life we share in Blacksburg,” said Moore, who commutes to work on his bicycle.

Community support

As part of the university’s VT Engage: The Community Learning Collaborative program, many faculty are helping inspire students to be thoughtful, active community members and, at the same time, improving quality of life for those they are serving. Some of the program’s signature collaborations include Students Engaging and Responding through Volunteer Experiences, AmeriCorps VISTA, Coalition for Refugee Resettlement, and Seasons of Service.

   

The Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) plyon is one of eight sculptured limestone pylons above War Memorial Chapel. The Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) plyon is one of eight sculptured limestone pylons above War Memorial Chapel.

“Being able to work with faculty and staff who are also passionate about serving the community is incredibly powerful,” said Gary Kirk, director of VT Engage. “It sets a great example and allows our students to visualize their own potential as engaged community members."

Other service events pair the energy of both students and employees throughout the year.

The Relay For Life event held on campus each spring raises about $600,000 for the American Cancer Society. Hundreds of faculty and staff members participate in the student-run event each year.

The Big Event is another community service effort in which Virginia Tech’s faculty and staff work alongside students. In 2012, more than 6,700 students, faculty, and staff completed 990 service projects in southwest Virginia, making it the largest service event in the university’s history.

Each fall, faculty and staff donate to the Marching Virginians' Hokies for the Hungry canned food drive. In 2011, the drive benefited the Montgomery County Christmas Store, a nonprofit that helps low-income families with food, clothing, and toys.

More than 100-plus employees strong, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association has collected supplies for area schools, sponsored blood drives, supported food pantries, and played Santa to more than 140 seniors at retirement facilities. In March 2012, its members delivered a truckload of supplies and a $600 donation to Mountain View Humane Society, a spay-neuter clinic that services the region. Since 2003, the association has donated more than $8,500 in student scholarships.

“The can-do spirit of our staff goes far beyond the walls of the university,” said Leigh Ann Teel, business manager for the College Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the association’s president-elect. “Our scholarship, outreach and community-service endeavors are a true reflection of our university’s motto, Ut Prosim.”

   

Geraldine Hollandsworth, at right, the 2011-12 chair of the special projects committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association, presents Kelly Cass, executive director of the Mountain View Humane Clinic, with a truckload of supplies and a $600 check for the spay/neuter clinic. Geraldine Hollandsworth, at right, the 2011-12 chair of the special projects committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Staff Association, presents Kelly Cass, executive director of the Mountain View Humane Clinic, with a truckload of supplies and a $600 check for the spay/neuter clinic.

Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign

Perhaps the most remarkable indication of how generous Virginia Tech employees are to community organizations, the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) is an annual workplace giving campaign for all state employees.

In 2011-12, Virginia Tech employees donated $272,697 (of the total $3.8 million state employees raised) to the CVC, ranking fourth in overall giving across the state. Nearly 1,300 charities benefit from the funds donated. 

“It’s very impressive that we’ve been able to meet and surpass our goals with nearly 1,187 employees participating,” said Carol Bishop, the CVC coordinator and business operations coordinator in the Department of Human Resources.  The 2012 CVC campaign kicked off Sept. 26. This year’s goal is to raise $300,000.

Campaign fuels scholarships fund

Each year, thousands of employees make an impact by participating in the Virginia Tech Faculty/Staff Annual Campaign. The flagship program of the campaign is the Employees' Spouse and Dependent Scholarship, which provides partial tuition support to employees' spouses and dependent children.

Contributions to fund go directly toward paying for current scholarships. Since 2000, 132 scholarships have been awarded.

Help for athletics

Known as Hokie Representatives, about 30 employees also donate their time each year to assist the Athletics Department with events and activities, said Terry Bolt, director of development for special gifts and the athletic annual fund.

Retired faculty and staff often volunteer, as well.

Through their monetary donations to the Hokie Club, hundreds of employees help make it possible for Virginia Tech sports teams to maintain a national profile for the university and unite the far-flung members of the Hokie Nation.

Videos: Virginia Tech gives back

Community service opportunities abound at Virginia Tech. These videos explore just a few of the ways students and employees are helping others.

Share this

 

Share

Spotlight Archive

Look through previous Spotlight stories

Access the archives