Career Services center renamed
Unveling the plaque for the renamed Smith Career center
BLACKSBURG, Va., October 20, 2007 -- Though both Garnett and Patsy Smith are from Southwest Virginia, neither attended Virginia Tech. Nonetheless, recognizing the university's tremendous importance to the region, they have supported numerous initiatives over the years.
Garnett and Patsy Smith
The list of Virginia Tech programs to benefit from their endowments includes the Art Museum of Western Virginia, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Equine Medical Center, the Skelton 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake, University Libraries, Virginia Tech Athletics, and the President's Discovery Fund, a pool of unrestricted funds.
Mr. Smith, who retired in 2000 as CEO of Advance Auto Parts, also serves on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation.
Hours before the university announced a $1 billion fundraising campaign, the Smiths' longstanding generosity was honored. The widely used Career Services Building, at the corner of Washington Street and West Campus Drive, was renamed the Garnett E. and Patsy T. Smith Career Center.
"We're just absolutely convinced that Virginia Tech is the economic engine that is going to continue to drive Southwest Virginia, where we have lived all of our lives," Mr. Smith said at the ceremony in which a brass plaque for the new building was unveiled. "We have seen, over the years, the great contributions that have been made here at the university. And we think there are great things on the horizon for all of us that are part of the Virginia Tech community."
University President Charles Steger said the Smiths are living proof that "hard work and determination can help you achieve any goal."
Mr. Smith got his first job, bagging groceries, at 13. While attending high school in Pulaski, Va., he worked at a local newspaper. By the end of high school, Mr. Smith, knew how to run the presses, even though his job was in the circulation department. In 1958, he started working at the regional chain that would grow into Advance Auto Parts. True to form, Mr. Smith continued to exceed his job requirements. After a series of promotions, he was named CEO in 1997.
The 22,000 square foot building that was renamed for the Smiths is devoted solely to the career development and employment needs of students and employers. Career Services staff had more than 24,000 student contacts last year, and more than 3,000 employers have registered with the center, Career Services Director Donna Cassell Ratcliffe said at the ceremony.
On top of their long history of philanthropy, the Smiths are among those who have committed more than $10 million to the Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, during its quiet phase.
The success of the quiet phase, which started in July 2003, has allowed the university to set a lofty campaign goal. The $1 billion target is four times greater than the goal announced for the university's last campaign, which exceeded its $250 million target by raising $337 million. That campaign concluded in October 1998.