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Ben Davenport Jr., Andy Morikawa to deliver 2016 fall commencement addresses

November 30, 2016

Ben Davenport Jr. and Andy Morikawa
Ben Davenport Jr. and Andy Morikawa

Ben Davenport Jr., former rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and university alumnus, will deliver the university’s fall commencement address Friday, Dec. 16.

Andy Morikawa, senior fellow with the School of Public and International Affairs’ Institute for Policy and Governance, will deliver the Graduate School commencement address.

The university-wide ceremony begins with a procession at 10:30 a.m. and the Graduate School ceremony begins with a procession at 2:30 p.m.

Both ceremonies will be in Cassell Coliseum. Graduating students will be honored for completing their academic degrees at the end of the summer and fall terms at the two events.

Those seeking more information on the ceremonies should visit the Virginia Tech Commencement website.

Ben Davenport Jr.
Ben Davenport Jr.

University Commencement Speaker: Ben Davenport

Davenport has been an active member of the Virginia Tech community for decades.

He served on the Pamplin Advisory Council, the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute Policy Advisory Board, and participated in the Hokies for Higher Education initiative. Through his exceptional generosity to Virginia Tech, he was made a member of the Ut Prosim Society President's Circle. Davenport was also on the board of visitors from 2002 to 2010 and was rector from 2004 to 2006. In May, he received the university's highest honor, the William H. Ruffner Medal.

Davenport has been a strong supporter of Southside Virginia. He was a driving force behind efforts to revitalize the economy of the region, championing the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, which was created in 2004 with Virginia Tech as an academic partner, and is a member of the board of the institute.

He is currently the chairman of Davenport Energy, a multifaceted company founded by his father in 1941 that provides petroleum products to customers throughout Southside Virginia and North Carolina. The company has seven regional offices serving more than 21,000 customers. He is also chairman of First Piedmont Corporation, a full-service waste management company.

In addition to his work at the university and his family business, Davenport has held leadership positions with various organizations, including the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, the Future of the Piedmont Foundation, the Danville Regional Foundation, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the board of American National Bank and Trust Company.

Davenport has a bachelor's degree in business from Virginia Tech.

Andy Morikawa
Andy Morikawa

Graduate School Commencement Speaker: Andy Morikawa

Morikawa is a longtime activist and community-engagement leader, who has spent more than three decades as a leader working with small towns and rural Appalachian communities in community building and engagement work.

He currently serves as a senior fellow with the School of Public and International Affairs’ Institute for Policy and Governance, where he works closely with the graduate student-led Community Voices speakers series and produces the Trustees without Borders podcast. He also is a fellow with the Virginia Tech Honors Residential College and is an affiliated faculty member of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

In addition to his work with Virginia Tech, he is actively involved in the Dialogue on Race, a community organization that aims to end racism in Montgomery County, and facilitates projects and partnerships for social change. He is chairman of the board of Community Housing Partners Corporation, a social enterprise nonprofit organization that works with private and public partners to design, preserve, construct, manage, and sell homes in the eastern United States.

Before retiring from active community organization leadership in 2010, he was the executive director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, which he led for 13 years. Prior to his service with the foundation, he served for eight years as CEO of World SHARE, an international development and food distribution nonprofit serving the U.S., Guatemala, and Mexico. Before his work with World SHARE, he served as executive director of New River Community Action, helping to lead the establishment of New River Valley Habitat for Humanity, the Free Clinic of the New River Valley, and the SHARE food distribution program.

Morikawa earned a bachelor of arts degree from Kalamazoo College.

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