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Virginia Tech announces $20 million gift from David Calhoun, class of 1979

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In a powerful statement on the need to reimagine higher education for today’s complex world, David Calhoun ’79, senior managing director for Blackstone and former CEO of Nielsen, has made the largest-ever gift to Virginia Tech’s Honors College.
[00:00:00] >> Well good morning and welcome everybody this is an exciting day for for junior tech it's the 1st day of spring which is very welcome despite the fact that the weather is a cooperating but we've got this feeling of starting new things and that's what we're talking about here is the 1st annual giving day I'll say a little bit more about that in a moment but today we're making a big announcement that will I think help Virginia Tech reimagine higher education our world and challenges are becoming more complex and interconnected every day our graduates must be prepared to meet those challenges and it's our mission to give them that knowledge and those skills the tools and the experiences as well that the district seed and to make to men or to make that difference we can't do that alone in a 4 Unfortunately we have many alumni and partners who are willing to work with our vision and who are stepping up to support us today I'm very pleased to announce a $20000000.00 gift to the Virginia Tech Honors College by Mr David Calhoun I think we all applaud at that point. [00:01:13] Dave graduated from Virginia Tech in 1979 and went on to become C.E.O. of Nielsen the global data and measurement company and is currently head of private equity portfolio operations at Blackstone and I could I could give a lot longer description but we'll put that off for now but we're so proud of Dave and what he's accomplished is incredibly generous gift is the largest in the history of the Honors College and one of the largest gifts in the history of this university that will create the Calhoun honors Discovery Program and the Calhoun center for higher education innovation this pilot program will if the size equipping graduates with the knowledge and the skills that they'll need to succeed. [00:01:56] Today's workforce in our future Khana me needs more college graduates who are skilled in practice working across the disciplines the these programs and this program will enable students to integrate multiple perspectives allowing new insights to develop as professionals partnerships with industry and nonprofits will allow students to not only learn new skills but to practice them for Gentex greatest strength is community when we do things together learning discovering serving and giving We are unstoppable starting at noon today thousands of Hokies across the country will be giving to support our university because they believe in what we can do and we need to support engagement of every Hokie in order to become a leading global university what a great example to conspire us that we have here today Dave Calhoun is one of the most generous donors in Virginia Tech history and his partnership with us goes back many years David his wife Barbara are members of the president circle in the approach from society of donors he is on the Pamplin advisory committee counsel and has served on the Virginia Tech foundation board he also co-chaired our last fund raising campaign 3 years ago he received the alumni Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the university Dave your generous and elite leadership your generosity and leadership is making us a better university on behalf of everyone at Virginia Tech thank you for your support and for being such an outstanding model for a prose I'm in action please come and see if you words. [00:03:45] I'll be very brief I would love to give you a big tutorial on the program but we don't know completely what it is yet and. We're in no way shape or form prepared to do so but I will tell you why I do things like this. I have a particular love of the school Virginia Tech gave me the most important thing somebody can have when they leave school and head out into this great big workforce and all these potential opportunities are out there it gave me confidence I knew the day I arrived in the company that I joined that time General Electric that for whatever reason the accounting degree I had was maybe a little better a little more insightful gave me a little more confidence than all the folks that were around the all competing for the same roles in the same jobs and trying to solve all the same problems I always felt like I was an inch ahead and maybe more importantly I always felt like it was my responsibility to reach out and learn all the things I didn't yet know. [00:04:44] That is a lot to do with the program that we're laying out here with the Honors College a lot of things have happened more recently with my involvement with tech that give me all kinds of optimism and and particularly my my rationale for wanting to invest in this the campaign that we ran not that long ago my friend Gene Feith is here who really helped prime and start that campaign. [00:05:10] We set a goal of a $1000000000.00 and no Once everyone told us we couldn't do it and we did it we did it because the Hokie nations as big and strong as we thought it was. And everybody stepped up things like this center right here the this is the result of of our alumni giving still too few of our alumni give. [00:05:31] If it were me the day they left they'd start giving if it was $0.50 they'd start giving but they'd practice and they practice and ultimately we would take control of the destiny of the very institution we love by virtue of the financial and intellectual support that we give it so I'm glad I'm here on giving day I didn't know I was here and giving day it was very well orchestrated intelligently engineered as as O. is but it's a big message and it's very important power of it with the weather and alumni Hokie nation that we have is more than most people realize. [00:06:10] The problem we're trying to solve the Honors College it's not really a problem it's an opportunity my business life has given me sort of a view of a 1000000 different things mostly highly engineered systems that are meant to solve big problems around the world. Almost every one of those problems requires Intrade to support every work people who understand lots of things human behavior highly engineered systems dating analytics communication systems all of the things that are necessary to solve to solve today's problems and or create tomorrow's opportunities they're right there in front of us it's I've never seen anything as exciting as it is right now in my business life what we don't have are enough people who know how to go about that who really know how and are practiced in bringing different disciplines together so that we can conquer these things faster and more expeditiously and frankly I'm just I'm in a better in a better way takes us 25 years to train people to be able to do that my view is if they came out of college with a little bit of practice with a little bit of agency in the way they develop their own curriculum to solve problems while they're here that discovery process in and of itself is the most important learning process they will stay will see and participate in. [00:07:26] To me it's differentiating the Honors College we have spectacular students all motivated that I know they all want to solve big problems they want to get involved so ultimately if we can design programs that give them access to all of those interdisciplinary things that help them solve real life problems and we do it efficiently and effectively Man there's a lot a lot we can solve and my my own view is that Virginia Tech's differentiated on this front are our whole basis the land grant. [00:07:58] Institution approach from which every student I bump into knows what it is and they know there that they have a role to play it that's differentiating in every way and the disciplines in the schools that are represented in this room they're as good as it gets that I know I know the graduates We've hired the graduates I watch them perform and so I know that underlying disciplines that bring this together which is always the foundation of any great house I know it's in place so it's a little too much it's a little you know I'm quite excited I'm quite passionate about what we can do I believe in this school in every way I can think of the leadership team that's decided they want to put their war in the water and pull together. [00:08:39] For me this can be a lot of fun so with that thank you and appreciate the opportunity.