Shirley Edwards, Kenneth Cooke, and Negar Jamshidimehr discuss the "Pamplin Alumni Lifecycle" during the Pamplin Engagement Summit.
Shirley Edwards, Kenneth Cooke, and Negar Jamshidimehr discuss the "Pamplin Alumni Lifecycle" during the Pamplin Engagement Summit.

Over 300 Pamplin College of Business alumni, friends, faculty, and staff gathered in Roanoke to celebrate the college, and plan for its future, at the inaugural Pamplin Engagement Summit. The summit, which was held at the Hotel Roanoke, featured numerous board meetings and committee meetings on Thursday, Oct. 10, and featured a plenary session and luncheon on Friday, Oct. 11. The summit provided an unprecedented opportunity to bring together all senior volunteer leaders as the college transforms the traditional model of education and meets the needs of the 21st century workforce.

“The fact that you are all here today demonstrates your passion and support for Pamplin,” said Jim Hatch, 2018 University Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipient and honorary summit chair.

“The positive impact that comes from volunteer alumni working to contribute their time, talent, and treasure cannot be overstated,” Hatch continued.

The summit coincided with Virginia Tech announcing its most ambitious fundraising and engagement campaign in its history. Boundless Impact: The Campaign for Virginia Tech, has a goal to raise $1.5 billion to drive forward major strategic priorities, including the Global Business and Analytics Complex, or GBAC.

“GBAC is going to be a disruptor of the status quo,” said Pamplin College of Business Dean Robert Sumichrast to the summit audience during his State of the College address. “It is going to change the way faculty and students interact.”

The complex will be comprised of four buildings to be constructed on the Blacksburg campus – two academic buildings, and two living-learning residential communities that will house around 700 students. Of the two academic buildings, each of which are expected to be about 100,000 square feet, one will serve as the home for the Pamplin College of Business. Construction is expected to begin in 2020 and be completed by 2023.

The Global Business and Analytics Complex aligns with the themes of the college’s strategic plan, as Sumichrast explained. Those strategic themes – focused excellence on what matters most, inspiring people to passionate pursuit, and building excellence through world-class systems – are all perched upon four “Pamplin Pillars,” or focused areas of study and business practice. “Business provides people with wealth and livelihood,” said Sumichrast. “Business has a role to play in making the world a better place.” In that spirit, he then unveiled the four Pamplin Pillars to the summit audience: Business Analytics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Security, Privacy and Trust, and the Human Condition.

Sumichrast noted that none of the college’s goals would be possible without the participation of those in attendance. “I’m inspired by the contributions you make to the college,” he stated. “You help make Pamplin College of Business the best business school experience in the country.”

After his address, Sumichrast welcomed Kevin Lane to the stage. Lane, Pamplin Advisory Council cabinet member and alumni engagement chair, then led a panel discussion on the “Pamplin Alumni Lifecycle.” The discussion featured Kenneth Cooke, senior vice president of financial reporting at Goldman Sachs, Shirley Edwards, senior client servicing partner at Ernst & Young, LLP, and Negar Jamshidimehr, a manager at EY. Each discussed their experience as Pamplin alumni and answered questions regarding the best ways to approach alumni in different stages of their careers, or “lifecycles.”

After the panel discussion, members of the summit then attended breakout sessions, each of which focused on a different challenge facing the college. Brad Casper, Pamplin Advisory Council cabinet member and student engagement chair, led a panel discussion on mentorship programming. Kevin Lane continued his discussion about the alumni lifecycle, while Ron Hodge, Management Board Chair, and Chris Xystros, ACIS Advisory Board Chair, led a conversation about the role of volunteer advisory leaders. At each session, attendees were encouraged to give their insights and recommendations as to the best ways to overcome each challenge.

“We plan on taking your ideas forward,” Sumichrast explained prior to the breakout sessions. “We want to continue to move the discussion forward.”

Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president for operations and administration at Virginia Tech, served as the plenary luncheon’s keynote speaker. “The theme for our campaign is boundless impact,” said Pinkney. “In order to have that one needs boundless capacity as well as boundless energy.

“I have experienced both of those during my time here at Virginia Tech.”

Following Pinkney’s keynote, several awards were handed out to members of the Pamplin family. Tim Chase, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, was given the Mentoring Award, which goes to an individual who consistently embodies the spirit of mentorship of Pamplin students, graduates, and of those in their local community.

Matthew Ogburn, an executive and business lead at Accenture, and Mallory Tuttle, the associate director of the Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Centers, received the Ut Prosim Award. This award is given to an individual or individuals who have rendered service to the community and demonstrated a proven track record in the spirit of Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The Rising Alumni Award was given to Rishav Khanal, a senior Business Solutions Consultant at LinkedIn. This award is given to an alumnus within the last 10 years who have achieved distinguished recognition in their career or in rendering service to Virginia Tech since graduation.

Finally, the Corporate Ambassador Award was given to Ernst & Young, who received the award based upon their prolonged support of Pamplin’s mission and its students. It was during this award presentation that Sumichrast announced that Ernst & Young have pledged $1.6 million in support to the GBAC initiative.

Upon completion of the plenary session and luncheon, attendees were invited to a reception at the Moss Arts Center, to be followed by a campaign kick-off show. The evening was capped off by a concert on the Drillfield featuring DJ Earworm, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Anderson .Paak.

Speaking via a recorded message at the plenary luncheon, university President Tim Sands highlighted Pamplin’s impact on the overall goals of Virginia Tech. “We are about to launch our most ambitious campaign in history, and Pamplin is leading the way.”

Sands continued, “The Global Business and Analytics Complex is one of the highest priorities and exemplifies the beyond boundaries vision. This is an opportunity for alumni to invest in Virginia Tech’s vision and own a part of its success.”

- Written by Jeremy Norman