Virginia Tech dedicates new Livestock Teaching Arena

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 28, 2004 – Congressman Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District, helped Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences dedicate a new $3 million livestock teaching arena April 24.

The new Alphin-Stuart Livestock Teaching Arena is being named for benefactors Col. and Mrs. Horace E. Alphin and the late Patricia Bonsall Stuart.

"This is a critical facility for our students and for the state's livestock industry," said Mark McCann, head of the college's Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences.

Goodlatte noted that Americans spend about 9 percent of their income on food for themselves and that less than 2 percent of the U.S. population feeds the rest of the country and adds greatly to the nation's balance of trade by exporting agricultural products around the world.

"But those figures of 9 percent and 2 percent would not be possible without institutions like Virginia Tech, which make it possible for our agricultural enterprises to be so efficient," Goodlatte told a crowd of about 400.

Education is a critical element in maintaining the efficiency that allows a vast majority of U.S. citizens to engage in other careers and interests.

More than 30 of the college's courses and laboratories, involving more than 1,000 students a semester, will utilize the new space.

Sharron Quisenberry, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said: "Our students and many others throughout the university have laboratory courses where hands-on experience with large animals is an integral part of their learning experience. The new arena will greatly enhance our teaching programs and provide a modern facility for livestock events and programs at Virginia Tech."

McCann said the arena would provide a much-needed facility for teaching activities, major student-organized events, intercollegiate animal competitions and other university functions.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger noted that the facility was being dedicated on the university's Founders Day weekend. "When Virginia Tech was chartered as a land grant college in 1872, our mission was to serve the citizens of Virginia and to provide a practical education with a focus on agriculture and the mechanical arts. Since our founding, we have successfully met this challenge, using our expertise to solve societal problems and improve the quality of life for citizens throughout Virginia."

He said the new teaching arena was "yet another vehicle that will enable our continued commitment to society, well into the future."

The centerpiece of the facility is a 125-foot by 250-foot (31,250 sq. ft) indoor arena with seating for approximately 800. There also will be animal-holding facilities, as well as classroom and office space.

Quisenberry praised the public/private partnership that led to the building's construction. It is jointly funded by private donations and public dollars. More than 420 friends and alumni contributed in excess of $1.57 million, and the state provided matching funds. Of the private gifts, 13 were for $25,000 or more.

The largest contributors were Col. Alphin and the estate of Patricia B. Stuart.

Alphin is a 1934 alumnus of the college and the Corp of Cadets who went on to serve more than 20 years in the U.S. Army from World War II to 1967. After retiring from the military, he became a hospital administrator in Washington, D.C., and was involved in real estate in Northern Virginia.

Mrs. Stuart and her husband, Herb, were Arabian horse breeders from Afton, VA. When she was 14, Mrs. Stuart began a lifelong career of showing and judging horses. Her husband was a founding director of the Virginia Horse Council, and she served as secretary and president of the council. In 1991, she was named the council's "Horsewoman of the Year."

Consistently ranked by the National Science Foundation among the top 10 institutions in agricultural research, Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the world's leading agricultural scientists. The college's comprehensive curriculum gives students a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. The college is a national leader in incorporating technology, biotechnology, computer applications, and other recent scientific advances into its teaching program.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.