The largest gift in the university's history will support the launch of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program with the goal of equipping graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today's complex and dynamic society. To that end, the program will encourage students to apply their understanding of cross-cutting concepts into transdisciplinary, hands-on, problem-solving experiences that engage partners in industry and other professional sectors. Building on the university's Pathways for General Education, a longstanding initiative to help students connect different disciplines and experiences through high-level concepts, the program initially will include honors students from four participating Virginia Tech colleges: architecture and urban studies, engineering, science, and business.
The lion's share of the gift — $15 million — will endow a fund that supports the recruitment and retention of Discovery Program participants and ultimately will benefit two hundred Honors College students a year. The remaining $5 million will be used to develop the Discovery Program curriculum and launch the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation.
A senior managing director at private equity and asset management firm Blackstone and a former CEO of Nielsen, the global information and data measurement company, Calhoun is a member of the university's President's Circle and serves on the Pamplin Advisory Council. In 2015, he received the university's Alumni Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes individuals for their contributions to the university.
"This is a game-changing gift for Virginia Tech and the Honors College students who will have the opportunity to develop skills that are essential for success," said Virginia Tech president Tim Sands. "In the years to come, experience with diverse teams, design thinking, transdisciplinary discovery, and communication will be indispensable, and thanks to Dave's remarkable and inspiring generosity, these students will be better prepared."