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University creates Office of Recovery and Support to deal with April 16 tragedy


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 27, 2007 – In an effort to enhance coordination of Virginia Tech's management of the Norris-AJ tragedy, Jay Poole has been appointed director of the newly created Office of Recovery and Support reporting to President Charles Steger.

The Office of Recovery and Support will coordinate the activities of various university functions that have responsibility for some aspect of the post-event effort.

Poole is a 1978 Virginia Tech graduate who most recently served Altria Group Inc. as vice president of corporate communications. Poole, a former rector of the board of visitors at Radford University, will assemble and direct a cross-functional team which will include representatives from Student Affairs, the Provost's Office, University Relations, and the President's office.

This new group will provide a central point of contact for those families most directly affected by the April 16 tragedy, while also improving the effectiveness of ongoing communications with victims and their families and the broader university community.

"Jay’s top responsibility will be to address the needs of the April 16 victims ... families, injured students, or students closely connected with the event," Steger said. "He will report directly to me and be our person who works daily with the many ramifications of that terrible day. Additionally, Jay will help coordinate the efforts of the dozens of offices throughout campus that deal with the aftermath on a daily basis."

Joining Poole will be case managers and two faculty members from the Office of the Provost. Anna Beth Benningfield, a retired professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy program, is working to assist the needs of families of deceased faculty members and work with the departments most closely affected by the tragedy. Ellen Plummer, the director of the Women's Center, who has a background in human development and counseling, will assist Poole and Benningfield.

Benningfield had a career in clinical practice in psychology and family therapy before coming to Virginia Tech, where she taught and advised doctoral students in the marriage and family therapy program. Plummer has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Relations and an M.S.W. in Community Organizing from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech.

"Each family and injured student has different needs – informational needs, emotional needs, or financial needs. We will do our best to assist," says Poole.

This new office using a case management model will replace the individual 'family liaison' counselors, primarily staff personnel from throughout the Division of Student Affairs, who have been assisting victims or their families since April 16.

Megan Armbruster has been appointed to the Dean of Students Office to serve as recovery coordinator for both the Dean of Students Office and the Division of Student Affairs. She will work closely with Poole and others meeting the needs of campus students affected by the shootings. Armbruster was most recently director of student life in the Department of Athletics. She holds a master's degree in Higher Education with an emphasis in student affairs from the University of Nebraska.



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