Virginia Tech’s Reynolds Homestead Continuing Education Center has a new director: Julie Walters Steele, who moves to Critz, Va., after five years at Virginia Tech in the Division of Student Affairs.

The Reynolds Homestead Continuing Education Center is one of Virginia Tech’s five Commonwealth Campus Centers. The others are in Abingdon, Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach.

Steele will begin her new responsibilities on Aug. 1. She replaces Kay Dunkley, who was recently named director of the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center.

Announcing Steele’s appointment, John Dooley, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs, said, “Julie’s accomplishments at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, as well as her affinity for rural communities such as those that surround the Reynolds Homestead, make her the right choice. I am looking forward to her continuing the momentum, particularly in expanding partnership opportunities with Patrick County schools.”

Steele has 20 years of experience in higher education administration. Before coming to Virginia Tech, she directed the student unions at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and Clemson University in Clemson, S.C. She is no stranger to pastoral landscapes; she grew up in a rural farming community in Lancaster County, S.C.

“I am honored to be selected as the new director for the Reynolds Homestead and look forward to working with residents of Patrick County and surrounding communities,” Steele said. “I am impressed with the current programs and services offered by the Reynolds Homestead, and I am excited to further develop partnerships with the communities, the Reynolds family, and Virginia Tech to advance the outreach mission.”

At Virginia Tech, Steele was instrumental in the establishment of Gobblerfest, now a Hokie tradition. A welcome festival that in 2010 drew 18,000 participants, Gobblerfest connects Blacksburg with the university community each fall.

Steele earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Clemson University. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. degree in alliance for social, political, ethical, and cultural thought at Virginia Tech.

The Reynolds Homestead is the site of the original home of tobacco manufacturer R.J. Reynolds. The home, constructed in 1843, is open for public touring. Much of the almost 900-acre property is devoted to forestry research by the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Recently completed projects at the Reynolds Homestead include renovations to the historic home, reconstruction of the tobacco barn, and development of a public hiking trail.

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