Virginia Tech is escalating its efforts to serve the Southside and southern Piedmont areas of Virginia by adding the Reynolds Homestead Continuing Education Center in Patrick County to the roster of university programs administered in the region. Effective July 1, the director of the homestead will report to Timothy W. Franklin, director of university outreach programs for Southside, in Danville. The change, which places the homestead within the university's Outreach and International Affairs, is part of a strategic initiative to consolidate administration of the university's programs that serve the public.

"Located at the historic 1843 birthplace of tobacco manufacturer R.J. Reynolds, the Virginia Tech Reynolds Homestead center offers a rich variety of cultural programs, continuing education courses, and the Forest Resource Research Facility. These programs complement the science and technology programs that will be available through the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, already part of Outreach and International Affairs," said University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark McNamee in announcing the reassignment.

By adding the Reynolds Homestead to Tech's Southside outreach initiative, the university will strengthen its presence in the region stretching from Southside to the Blue Ridge Mountains and improve services to these communities.

"The Reynolds Homestead is a wonderful asset to Virginia Tech and to the region. The cultural programs offered there are important, and the facility is a great resource for Patrick County as well as adjacent communities," Franklin said.

"Integrating the Virginia Tech Southside regional effort through this administrative realignment will enable us to build upon existing excellent programs to enhance arts and humanities offerings through regional collaboration. As these relationships develop, Reynolds Homestead is the logical focal point for leadership and coordination," Franklin said.

He also noted that the forestry program at the Reynolds Homestead, which will remain a part of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES) program, ties into the high value crops initiative and biotechnology research effort that will soon commence in Danville. The Virginia Tech Agricultural Research and Extension Centers throughout the state are a part of VAES. The Forest Resources Research Center was created in 1969 to study forest biology including genetics, physiology, and soils.

Carolyn Beale, acting director of the Reynolds Homestead, said that she foresees "a greater ability to enrich the lives of area residents and visitors through collaborative programming" as a result of the change.

The Reynolds Homestead compound, more than 700 acres just outside the town of Critz, is the birthplace and boyhood home of tobacco manufacturer R.J. Reynolds. The two-story brick house has been restored to its nineteenth-century state and includes many of the original family furnishings. A registered state and national landmark, it is open for tours from May through October and at other times by appointment. The conference building is the center for a series of concerts, exhibits, plays, discussions, lectures, and celebrations that draw visitors from throughout the region. The Reynolds Homestead web site is at http://www.cis.vt.edu/reynolds_homestead/. The Forest Resources Center's web site is http://arecs.vaes.vt.edu/arec.cfm?webname=critz