Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ETSU Supports the Hokies!

Bernadette Cash and Sara Shaffer sign a sheet that will be made into a quilt during the ETSU gathering in memory of the victims at Virginia Tech. (Ron Campbell / Johnson City Press)

For the Hokies - ETSU event held in support of Virginia Tech
By Sam Watson
Press Education Writer

Buccaneer blue and gold gave way to Hokie maroon and orange Tuesday as East Tennessee State University sent messages of support to Virginia Tech in the wake of last week’s massacre.

Hundreds of students and employees gathered on ETSU’s Borchuck Plaza for a noon service, many donning maroon and orange ribbons and signing banners in a show of solidarity for their peers in Blacksburg, Va.

“We’re just really reaching our hearts out to everyone over there at Virginia Tech,” said Justin Mitchell, an ETSU junior from Memphis. “It’s a really good healing exercise for us, as well, and all American college students across the United States.”

On April 16, Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty members and injured several others in a rampage that sent a chill through college campuses across the country. The tragedy hit particularly close to home at ETSU, an institution located just 150 miles away from Blacksburg.

Many students on the Johnson City campus have friends at Virginia Tech or other ties there, and ETSU employs several Virginia Tech alumni, including Mark Musick, holder of ETSU’s Quillen Chair of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, who led Tuesday’s service alongside ETSU President Paul Stanton.

Also on the plaza Tuesday was Virginia Tech graduate Dr. Sally Lee, ETSU associate vice president for student affairs.

“As an alum, I am appreciative of the response on behalf of my institution,” Lee said as Virginia Tech symbols dangled from her ears. “The outpouring for Virginia Tech from other institutions has been amazing.”

As a student at Virginia Tech, Lee was a resident adviser in West Ambler Johnston Hall, the site where Cho began his attack by killing students Ryan Clark and Emily Hilscher. Last week’s events forever changed Lee’s perspective about her old dorm.

“I can tell you pretty much exactly where that young lady and that RA were murdered because of the way that building is configured uniquely,” she said. “That has an impact.”

The massacre also changed perspectives for some ETSU students.

“For our students here, there’s a lot of sorrow and a lot of understanding of the lost innocence and the impact it will have on that school,” Lee said. “So, I think it’s good for our students to have an outlet for their own emotions.”

To Mitchell, knowing that students his own age were killed doing the same things he does every day — attending classes — was scary.

“It hurts. We really feel that,” he said. “Maybe we can create more awareness so that everybody can lend a helping hand to those who feel alone, so they don’t feel they have to kill.”

As ETSU students signed a sheet that will form part of a memorial quilt for Virginia Tech, Mitchell wrote just three words: “Cho was wrong.”

“I believe that they (Virginia Tech students) feel just as strongly as we do that people who are loners and outsiders should not feel as pressed against,” Mitchell said. “Maybe if you are ostracized and feel that you are alone, you won’t lash out against society.”

ETSU sophomore Deanna Stamper, an elementary education major from Kingsport, brought the sheet to campus as part of a national project organized by Alpha Phi Omega, a community service organization.

“I really wanted to do it, because I have two very special friends there (at Virginia Tech) in the engineering program. Luckily, they were away at the time on a competition,” Stamper said. “I know that many students want to find a way to send love to them, and this to me is a great way to do it.

“I think it gives great faith back to our nation to see how strong these young people can be through this.”

Wearing Virginia Tech athletic jerseys, ETSU senior Sara Shaffer and her sister in law, Bernadette Cash, signed the sheet to send messages to a campus Shaffer has known since childhood via athletic events.

“It’s awfully close to home,” Shaffer said. “My dad went to Virginia Tech. Our whole family has been going to Blacksburg since before I was even born. We’re all Hokies.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

University of Florida Gators support Virginia Tech

My wife is a 1990 Accounting graduate from Virginia Tech living currently in Gainesville, Florida. We thought we would submit this to show that the Gator Nation supports the Hokie Nation. We are all Virginia Tech.

Bret Dampier, RPh
University of Florida College of Pharmacy, 1988

Monday, April 23, 2007

Images and News from the Virginia Tech Campus

Brent Jesiek shared two great things with me today-

Pictures from the VT campus at

And news of a coming website where these and other tributes will be permanently housed:

Brent shared with me that the site will be "a new multimedia memory bank for the April 16 tragedy. The site is being hosted on campus, with the curatorial support of numerous faculty and students." This is terrific news, as content such as this should be brought together in one place, sponsored by Tech, and maintained by Tech faculty and students.

I look forward to the site going live and encourage anyone reading to share their pictures and words with this new repository.

Virginia Tech alum to read names at Fresno State memorial Monday

Two alumni of Virginia Tech will read the names of the 32 students and faculty who died last week, during a memorial Monday (April 23) at California State University, Fresno. The ceremony will include a National Moment of Silence called for 9:45 a.m. as students resume classes there.

Dr. Maria Sanchez and Dr. Ira Sorenson, members of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Class of 2002 who are now mechanical engineering professors in the College of Engineering at Fresno State, will join University President John D. Welty and students at the memorial from 9:30 to 10 a.m. in the Free Speech Area. More info:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

WE ARE with you at Penn State

The recent days since the travesty at Virginia Tech has provided once again, like the aftermath of NINE-ELEVEN, a stimulus that brings us, as Americans, and particularly those associated with our academic family closer together. On Wednesday, I traveled from my home in Alexandria, VA to State College, PA to attend the Penn State Alumni Council Spring Session and the annual Blue-White football game, that regularly ends the Nittany Lion spring football training.

The Penn State Campus is usually a lively venue, but this time when I arrived there was a different aura. There was a sadness concerning the students and faculty of our sister land grant institution at Blacksburg. The Close knit family that defines Virginia Tech now has an extended family of students, faculty, and alumni from the entire academic community in the USA.

As our Alumni Council meeting started, all the members wore maroon and orange ribbons to signify our respect and solidarity with the Virginia Tech family. That night a Memorial Service was held on the Campus along with several candle light vigils. One of the vigils was for a Penn State Alumnus who became one of the Hokie grad students lost that day, Jeremy Hellbreith. Later in the day our Alumni Council agreed to provide $1000 to the family’s fund at VT.

On Saturday we had the intrasquad football game, were the traditional sea of blue and white became maroon and orange. The University provided maroon and orange Hokie T-shirts for the entire student section at the Stadium. Many wore Penn State clothing in these same colors rather than the blue and white. Seventy Six thousand (76,000) record setting fans attended. At the start of the game, following a poem of tribute by one of the football team members, A moment of silence will be observed. Then special selection will be performed by the famous blue band, now showing the colors maroon and orange in support of the Virginia Tech family. Most moving was the brass rendition of “Amazing Grace.” To “kick off the game”, A cheer of “Go Hokies” filled the stadium.

Penn State is a rabid football school with voracious enthusiastic fans that will not miss an event, so on this Saturday nothing changed, except the energy was directed at supporting the Hokie.

During the 3 or 4 days leading up to Saturday’s game, sales of Hokie hats, shirts and other clothing has been available (Sales have been brisk) with all the proceeds going to the VT family fund. This was evidenced when viewing the tailgates and the stadium where blue and white was replaced with maroon and orange.

During a recent interview on national TV, a student at Virginia Tech was asked, “What is a Hokie?” The student replied, “I am”. Such a reply is akin to the Penn State Slogan, “We Are” and, we are with Virginia Tech. We are there to grieve with you and help move all of US forward.

Bob Landis
Penn State Meteorology 19863
Alumni Fellow and member of the Alumni Council

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Orange and Maroon participants posting to and have been collecting pictures from orange and maroon effect day participants. To see all of the uploads, go to

Here are a sample of the participants - all images are linked directly from the PatomacNews site as requested:

Members of the Osbourn Park Science Department

Prince William County Service Authority

Patomac News Staff

Journal Messenger

Old Bridge Elementary
Old Bridge Staff

Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce

Hailey Elementary in Texas

a message of hope from Texas

To all Hokies past and present, and all the families and friends of the those whose lives were lost on April 16, 2007. My heart goes out to all of you and yall are in my thoughts and prayers. I just graduated from college a year ago, and this event fell fresh on my heart. I believe God gave me these words to share with you, and I pray that a Hokie will discover a melody to put with these words, that a beautiful tribute might arise. May God grant yall peace and comfort as you brave each new day from here on out.

We March On

So many deaths
In such a short time
The grief and the heartache
Is burning inside
Beautiful life
Has been taken away
We stand here in shock
In utter dismay

We march on as Hokies
We march on as one
Though this great tragedy
Won't soon be undone
We cling to each other
United we stand
Hokies move forward
Hand in hand

The sun has gone down
On many young lives
And ended the stories
That were filled with good times
Their memories we honor
For their families we pray
And march on as Hokies
To brave a new day

We march on as Hokies
We march on as one
Though this great tragedy
Won't soon be undone
We cling to each other
United we stand
Hokies move forward
Hand in hand

We cling to each other
United we stand
Hokies move forward
Hand in hand

-In memory of all those lost on April 16, 2007.

Lisa Merryman
Texas A&M
Class of 2005