Virginia Tech launches VT-ENGAGE volunteer initiative to honor April 16 victims



BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 7, 2007 – Virginia Tech has announced a new initiative called VT-ENGAGE to honor the victims of April 16, 2007 and reaffirm its commitment to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The goal of VT-ENGAGE is 300,000 hours of community service to be performed by students, faculty, and staff by April 16, 2008. The Virginia Tech Alumni Association executive committee voted this week to challenge its members around the world to donate an additional 300,000 hours of community service for a total of 600,000 hours.

"Imagine the power of 600,000 hours of community service," University Provost Mark G. McNamee said in announcing the initiative. "We can truly make a significant difference in communities around the world. We also hope other colleges and universities in the United States and abroad will join us by volunteering to honor the exemplary individuals we lost."

The volunteer service campaign will begin with a kickoff event on the Virginia Tech Drillfield on Tuesday, October 16. Non-profit, community, and other service organizations will have booths at which students and university personnel can learn about volunteer opportunities and pledge their 10 hours. The event will feature music and refreshments. Similar events will take place at Virginia Tech's centers across the Commonwealth and in Switzerland.

University Provost Mark McNamee announced the initiative in an e-mail message to the university community and challenged each student, faculty member, and staff member to pledge at least 10 hours of community service, service-learning, or other volunteer activity. He appointed a university-wide steering committee chaired by Vice Provost for Outreach and International Affairs John E. Dooley to organize the effort. All members of the university's Board of Visitors have signed pledge cards and endorsed the effort.

Tom Carter (class of 1981), international president of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, said in announcing the alumni pledge, "There currently are 116 active alumni chapters through which many alumni may choose to dedicate service hours to programs already in place for the chapters. However, all alumni are encouraged to select an avenue of service of their choice and pledge at least ten hours through VT-ENGAGE in honor of the victims of April 16. It is hoped that alumni will perform their pledged service between the remaining months of this fall and before next April."

"The 300,000 hours that would be committed by alumni match the goal set by the university for students, faculty and staff to perform in the same suggested period," said Vice President for Alumni Relations Tom Tillar, class of 1969. "Including the alumni, Virginia Tech's entire family can make a significant impact on service programs and opportunities throughout the nation and beyond our borders around the globe."

VT-ENGAGE's first year will honor the memory of those who lost their lives at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 and their commitment to service within their communities around the world.

The VT-ENGAGE website will provide a gateway to information about volunteer opportunities and will allow visitors to pledge and track their 10 hours of service. It will also feature stories with photos about student, faculty, and staff volunteer experiences.