ABC News correspondent Pierre Thomas to deliver 2004 Virginia Tech commencement address

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 11, 2004 – ABC News Justice Department Correspondent Pierre Thomas will address the 2004 graduates at Virginia Tech's 132nd commencement ceremonies Friday, May 14.

The University Commencement ceremony, which will honor approximately 5,219 undergraduate and graduate degree candidates, will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field. The Graduate School ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.

Virginia Tech's 24th Northern Virginia Center commencement ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at the George Mason University Center for the Arts in Fairfax, Va. That ceremony will honor 275 degree candidates -- 245 will receive master's degrees and 30 will receive doctoral degrees.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will preside over all three ceremonies.

Thomas, a 1984 Virginia Tech graduate, has covered the U.S. Justice Department and law enforcement issues for ABC News since 2000. He has covered a variety of major news stores including the Robert Hanssen FBI spy scandal, the Oklahoma City Bombing missing FBI files controversy, and the Chandra Levy case. A native of Amherst County, Va., Thomas began his journalism career with the Roanoke Times and later worked for the Washington Post and CNN. Thomas has received numerous awards and other recognitions during his journalism career.

In addition to Thomas, several student speakers will address the graduates and their families during the University Commencement ceremony. Sabrina Chin of Great Falls, Va., a senior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will give opening reflections, and Sara Kennedy of Spotsylvania, Va., a senior majoring in human nutrition, foods and exercise in the College of Agriculture, will deliver closing remarks. Class of 2004 President Nicole Reynolds of Stephenson, Va., a senior majoring in biology in the College of Science, also will address the audience.

Sarah Woods of Scottsville, Va., a senior majoring in international studies and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and Kerry O'Neill of Laurel, Md., a senior majoring in communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will present the senior class challenge gift during the ceremony.

During the Graduate School ceremony, Orlando L. Taylor, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School at Howard University, will deliver the keynote address. Taylor, a national leader in graduate education, has dedicated his career to help make doctoral education more responsive to societal needs and students' interests. Howard University graduates the most African American Ph.D. students in the nation.

Harold L. Martin Sr., chancellor of Winston-Salem State College in Winston-Salem, N.C., and a member of the Virginia Tech Class of 1980, will be honored during the graduate ceremony with the Graduate Alumni Achievement Award. The award will be presented by Virginia Tech's Graduate School and the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.

Rebecca A. Belling Abler of Blacksburg, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology in the College of Sciences, will speak to her fellow classmates and assembled guests during the Graduate School ceremony.

Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., will deliver the keynote address at the Northern Virginia commencement. Korb was dean of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, director at the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Policy Education and Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration. He has written 20 books and more than 100 articles on national security issues.

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.