Arthur J. Keown and George E. "Buddy" Russell

Vice President for Alumni Relations Emeritus George E. “Buddy” Russell ’52 has been named the Class of 2021 class ring namesake and Arthur J. Keown, alumni distinguished professor and R. B. Pamplin professor of finance for Pamplin College of Business, has been named class sponsor.

The ring namesake and sponsor are honorary roles selected by each class. Both Russell and Keown will be honored at Ring Premiere on Oct. 9.

Russell, who grew up on a farm in Marshall, Virginia, planned to become a veterinarian but changed course after recognizing his gift for working with people. After service with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Russell became alumni director for Virginia Tech in 1962. He was later named vice president for alumni relations in 1991, laying the foundation for alumni relations work that continues today.

Russell oversaw the creation of the alumni chapter and reunion programs and also founded the Student Alumni Associates. He was the recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame Award in 2013. He continues to serve on the advisory committee of the Old Guard Society of Golden Alumni.

“We are pleased to honor Dr. Russell as our class ring namesake,” said ring design chair and mechanical engineering junior Alex Seidenberg. “He is a Hokie legend who continues to serve and stay connected with Virginia Tech.”

Keown has been a part of the Virginia Tech community since 1971. Thousands of Hokies have taken his classes in finance. He continues to be the founding champion for the establishment of the future Financial Literacy Program at Virginia Tech, which will provide resources to promote financial literacy and competence for all students at the university.

“I first met Dr. Keown in his finance class and from the first day, we sensed his enthusiasm and passion for finance,” said class president and finance junior Grant Bommer. “He genuinely cares about his students, their education, and financial literacy.”

Beginning with the Class of 1991, the class ring design process has included the recognition of a distinguished Virginia Tech alumnus, alumna, university president, faculty member, or administrator as ring collection namesake. Recent namesakes have included poet Nikki Giovanni, former vice president for alumni relations Tom Tillar ’69, and former head football coach Frank Beamer ’69.

Officers for each class also choose a university faculty member or administrator to serve as honorary sponsor. Recent sponsors have included Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of the Corps of Cadets; Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs; and retired Captain Vince Houston of Virginia Tech Police Department.

Since 1993, Alumni Relations has provided sponsorship and advising to class programs, which includes the class ring tradition.

— Written by Laura Wedin