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'The Heart and the Fist' reaffirmed as the university’s 2016-17 Common Book

February 24, 2016

Student reads the 2016-17 common book choice at the War Memorial Pylons
First-year student Emily Shull reads the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Common Book, 'The Heart and the Fist,' by Eric Greitens at the Pylons.

Eric Greitens’ “The Heart and the Fist” was reaffirmed as Virginia Tech’s 2016-17 Common Book.

The autobiography is the university’s Common Book for this academic year. The New York Times best seller details Greiten’s life of service, through academics as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar as well as roles with humanitarian organizations and service as a United States Navy SEAL. Following his military service, Greitens founded The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that challenges veterans to serve in communities across the U.S.

“The Common Book committee wanted to build on the momentum started this year with the book,” said Jennifer Culhane, director of first year academic initiatives in the Office of First Year Experiences and co-chair of the Common Book committee. “We hope faculty and students will be able to continue conversations that were provoked by the book this year and learn more as we welcome new Hokies to campus this fall who can join these conversations with a fresh perspective.”

The committee received feedback about the book from faculty and students, who largely felt the book resonated with the community, particularly its connection to Virginia Tech’s motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

“Reading ‘The Heart and the Fist’ really showed me a whole new perspective on life,” said Samantha Goldstein of Hillsborough, New Jersey, a freshman majoring in University Studies who read the book for the University Studies First-Year Experiences course. “Not only did Eric Greitens want to do good in this world, he wanted to better himself because of it as well. He worked day after day with a purpose and continued to strive to be a better person. He impacted the lives of others and worked towards his goals, and his story was inspiring. It made me believe in myself as a person and in my abilities. It made me want to test my limits and try harder in everything that I do.”

Virginia Tech’s Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) will hold workshops for faculty who want to integrate the book into their courses. The courses are free, but registration is required. One session will be on Wednesday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon; the other session will be on Thursday, April 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The committee selected “The Heart and the Fist” for the 2015-16 academic year after reviewing public suggestions for a new book. The call prompted 163 recommendations for 103 books.

With next year’s book in place, the committee is already beginning plans for the next Common Book. The public is invited to submit recommendations for the 2017-18 Common Book through this website. The call for nominations for 2017-18 focuses on books that exemplify Virginia Tech values, including the university mission statement, diversity and inclusion, and the university’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). Nominations can be submitted until March 9. The committee will narrow down the recommendations and put the finalists through a comprehensive review process, getting feedback from faculty, staff, and students, to aid their selection of a new book.

Copies of the Common Book are distributed to first-year students each year. Faculty may request a copy of the Common Book via email.

“The Heart and the Fist” is the university’s ninth Common Book.

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