Virginia Tech's College Of Natural Resources Dedicates Cheatham Hall Expansion

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 10, 2003 – Thanks to funding by private donors, Alyce Cheatham and her family of Portland, Oregon, Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources will dedicate a much-needed, three-story addition to its current Cheatham Hall on Wednesday, March 19, at 2:30 p.m.

The new wing, attached to the south end of Cheatham Hall, adds 9,300 square feet of space. Greg Brown, dean of the College of Natural Resources, says, "Our current building was constructed in the 1970s for classrooms and labs, and Cheatham Hall has become seriously overcrowded. The new addition relieves some of those pressures with an open design for the entranceway creating a welcoming atmosphere."

For the first time students will have a lobby and gathering area. The first floor houses the undergraduate programs office, while the second floor has much of the wood science and forest products department plus two forestry department offices. Three classrooms occupy the third floor of the new space.

Mrs. Cheatham has continued family support of the College of Natural Resources that her late husband Julian North Cheatham began when he funded construction of the college's current building in 1972. "Benefactor and trusted friend of Virginia Tech for 60 years, Julian, an alumnus of 1933, is remembered for his many contributions to Virginia Tech," says John Hosner, who developed the natural resources program from the 1960s before retiring in 1992.

Born near Lynchburg in Campbell County, Virginia, in 1911, Julian was a member of the Corps of Cadets while a student at Virginia Tech. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he began working for the Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company that his brother Owen had started. Julian rose to the ranks of executive vice president and director before retiring in 1975 from his family company that grew into one of America's largest corporations, the Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

Before Julian died, he was actively working on establishing the now thriving World Forestry Institute. He envisioned that the Institute would not only provide information on managing the valuable commercial resource of trees but would also help preserve the forests of the world.

Of all his accomplishments, Julian took greatest pride in receiving the William H. Ruffner Medal in 1983. The medal is the highest honor that Virginia Tech can bestow, and it was awarded to Julian for his support in the construction of Virginia Tech's Forest Products Research Center and Cheatham Hall. Over the years, he and his wife Alyce have provided support for a professorship bearing his name, in addition to numerous scholarships for students.

In 1972 the building of Cheatham Hall filled an urgent need for new classroom, laboratory, and office space. Before then, classes were scattered across the campus, with no central administrative office. Constructed at the cost of $1.7 million, the building offered 50,000 square feet of spacious classrooms and offices, all of which boasted paneled walls of different species donated by forest industry companies.

Thirty-one years ago, on May 5, 1972, at the first dedication ceremony for the Julian N. Cheatham Hall, Forestry and Wildlife Resources was a division of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. With the arrival of John F. Hosner in 1961 to head up the forestry and teaching program, interest in forestry and wildlife studies began growing by leaps and bounds.

In 1959, when the Department of Forestry and Wildlife was established, there were five graduate students and 66 undergraduates. By 1968, it had become the fastest growing department in the entire university, with 52 graduate students and 346 undergraduates.

The successful partnership between industry and education, as demonstrated by the building of Cheatham Hall, led to the steady progression of academic achievements. The department became a school (one of the top five natural resource programs in the nation), then in 1993 the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources. It was re-named the College of Natural Resources in 1999 to reflect the college's broadening scope.

The new Cheatham addition was designed by the architectural firm of Boynton Rothschild Rowland Architects PC with feasibility studies done by Cheryl D. Moore, an architect in Richmond, Va. Total project cost was $2.2 million.