In the future, Virginia Tech alumni and fans may log on to America Online (AOL) and hear "gobble…gobble" instead of the familiar "you've got mail." But now, they are able to search the Internet and read e-mail with a new Virginia Tech-themed AOL homepage.

The Virginia Tech Licensing and Trademark Department has reached an agreement with America Online to be the first university in the United States to be included in the "Self Expressions" program available to AOL subscribers. The program allows AOL 8.0 and 9.0 users to customize different parts of their AOL service with Virginia Tech logos and colors. This includes the "VT" logo and the Hokie Bird as buddy icons, wallpaper for Instant Messenger (IM) and other desktop features. In addition, there will be a direct link on the AOL desktop to the Virginia Tech website.

"AOL members love Expressions and we are pleased to announce that Virginia Tech is the first and only collegiate program to launch Expressions on the AOL Service," says Alex Joannou, AOL product manager of sports. "Virginia Tech's reputation as an innovator and leader in technology led AOL to select it as the flagship partner for Collegiate Expressions."

Currently, AOL has agreements for the Self Expressions program only with the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

"We are really excited about teaming with AOL and being the first university for their Self Expressions program," said Locke White, director of licensing. "It will allow us to further expand the Virginia Tech brand and will provide us with a great opportunity to reach out to all our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans."

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become the largest university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top 30 research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 170 academic degree programs.

Note to Reporters: Artwork of the designs is available upon request. Any media requests and/or questions can be directed to Locke White, director of licensing at lowhite@vt.edu or (540) 231-7944.