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Steering committee to guide university's remembrance activities on April 16, 2008


BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 31, 2008 – Virginia Tech President Charles Steger has established a 21-person steering committee to guide the on-campus activities to be held on April 16, 2008, marking the tragedy that occurred on campus one year earlier.

The steering committee includes individuals from affected families, students, and departments, as well as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members. University Provost Mark McNamee will chair the committee; Jay Poole, director of the Office of Recovery and Support, will serve as vice-chair.

“April 16, 2008, will be an important day for all of us as we remember and honor those we lost and those who were injured,” said McNamee. “As we plan official activities that respect and honor them, we want to provide an opportunity for participation by the loved ones of those killed, those who were injured and their families, and members of our on and off-campus communities. This steering committee will help us do that.”

“We know many groups internal and external to the university with the very best of intentions are considering a wide range of specialized events for that day,” added McNamee. “It is our intent that the steering committee will set an overall framework for the official university events so that others may proceed with plans that do not conflict.”

“Based on conversation with the families most affected by the tragedy and communications within the university community, we expect the events of April 16, 2008, to be simple and solemn,” said Poole.

Virginia Tech has canceled classes on April 16, 2008. Adjustments to university operations that day may still be made and would be announced at a later date.

Megan Armbruster from the Office of Recovery and Support will provide staff support for the steering committee. Comments to the steering committee should be directed to her through the Office of Recovery and Support by calling 540-231-0062, or e-mail, marmbrus@vt.edu.

In addition to McNamee and Poole, members of the steering committee include:

  • Katelyn Carney, undergraduate student (international studies major)
  • Harvey Barker, New River Valley Community Services
  • Jamal Carver, undergraduate student (engineering science and mechanics major)
  • James Collier, associate professor of English and member of the Faculty Senate
  • Debbie Day, associate vice president for alumni relations
  • Laura Freeman, graduate student and member of the Graduate Student Assembly
  • Linda Granata, research associate and spouse of deceased faculty member Kevin Granata
  • James Kendall LaRue, undergraduate student (finance and marketing major) and member of the Student Government Association
  • Tommy McDearis, pastor, Blacksburg Baptist Church
  • Ginny Morgan, assistant director for event planning, University Unions and Student Activities
  • Roger O’Dell, parent of Derek O’Dell, a Norris Hall survivor
  • Liselle Vega-Cortes, widow of Juan Ramón Ortiz-Ortiz and Virginia Tech alumna
  • Ishwar Puri, professor and department head, Engineering Science and Mechanics
  • Cathy and Peter Read, parents of Mary Karen Read
  • Ron Rordam, mayor, Town of Blacksburg
  • Yannis Stivachtis, assistant professor of political science and director of international studies
  • Tom Tucker, architectural planner and Staff Senate vice president
  • Jennifer Vaziralli, undergraduate student (marketing and human resources management major) and member of Student Government Association


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