Community and supporters pledge over 400,000 hours of volunteer service for VT-ENGAGE

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2008 – Virginia Tech's students, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and friends have pledged more than 400,000 hours of volunteer service for this academic year and have already served more than 200,000 hours to honor those lost April 16, 2007, through the university's volunteerism initiative, VT-ENGAGE.

VT-ENGAGE also helps Virginia Tech recommit to the university’s motto since 1896, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The university is encouraging everyone to pledge and record their service hours on the VT-ENGAGE website by May 8, 2008. Total hours pledged and served for the year will be announced at graduation on May 9. The university community has been challenged to contribute at least 10 hours of service per person during the academic year.

Virginia Tech launched VT-ENGAGE at a kickoff event on October 16, 2007, at the suggestion of Professor Bryan Cloyd and his wife Renée, who lost their daughter, Austin, on April 16. The Cloyds say they wanted to honor their daughter’s memory by organizing volunteers for her favorite charity, Appalachian Service Project, and simultaneously express their grief in a way that would benefit society. They say they thought such service would help the university to heal in the aftermath of the tragedy.

“Volunteerism has always been a big part of life for the Virginia Tech community,” says Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee. “We hope the ongoing VT-ENGAGE initiative will strengthen this aspect of the university’s character and help us continue to attract talented students who care about their communities.”

Friends of Virginia Tech, as well as other colleges and universities nationwide, have chosen to participate in honoring the lost faculty and students, many of whom were deeply committed to service to society, by dedicating their volunteer service this year to VT-ENGAGE. Participants include the Boston College football team, which has been doing VT-ENGAGE service since last fall. Susquehanna University and Shenandoah University formed VT-ENGAGE programs on their campuses in solidarity with Virginia Tech.

The response has been especially strong in Southwest Virginia. Mountain Empire Community College students, faculty, and staff have performed about 12,000 hours of community service. Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon, Va., and Southwest Virginia Community College in Richlands, Va., have also participated. Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Va., has been a strong VT-ENGAGE supporter with 544 hours served, as have other schools in the region. The Daughters of the American Revolution in Buchanan County also pledged and served for VT-ENGAGE.