Virginia Tech Mathematics Professor Ezra A. "Bud" Brown and Virginia Tech Presidential Fellow and former president and publisher of the Roanoke Times Walter Rugaber will deliver the keynote addresses to graduating students during Virginia Tech's fall commencement ceremonies Friday, Dec. 19 at Cassell Coliseum.

Brown will deliver the keynote address at the undergraduate ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. and Rugaber will address the graduate students at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will preside over both ceremonies. It is expected that approximately 1,250 undergraduate students and 500 graduate students will participate in the two events.

University Commencement Speaker:  Ezra A. "Bud" Brown

A native of New Orleans, Brown has a bachelor's degree from Rice University, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1969, Brown has also been a visiting professor at the University of Münich, and in the last decade has done extensive mathematical work for the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.

At Virginia Tech, Brown has taught 16 undergraduate and six graduate courses in mathematics, and 10 honors colloquia on such varied subjects as speculative fiction, problem solving, and the music of Duke Ellington. For six years, he was project director of the Emerging Scholars Program in Calculus, a supplemental instruction program that was highly effective in increasing student success in the engineering calculus sequence.

A devoted teacher, Brown has received the university's Diggs Teaching Scholar Award, the William E. Wine Award, and the G. Burke Johnston Award for Outstanding Teaching, and was inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence. He has chaired the Diggs Teaching Scholars and is immediate past chair of the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Brown has published more than 50 research papers in several areas of mathematics, including number theory and discrete mathematics, and has an intense interest in discovering connections between apparently unrelated areas of mathematics. He enjoys working with students who are engaged in research, and is a faculty advisor to Virginia Tech's student chapter of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). He has received three national awards for excellence in expository writing and an award for outstanding teaching from the MAA.

Graduate Commencement Speaker: Walter Rugaber

After earning his degree from Northwestern University, Rugaber started his distinguished career in journalism with a stint at the Atlanta Journal in 1961, and then moved on to the Detroit Free Press and the New York Times in their Detroit, Atlanta and Washington bureaus.

In 1978 he became the executive editor of the Greensboro Daily News & Record, and in 1982 made the move to the Roanoke Times where he oversaw a staff of nearly 500, produced three Pulitzer Prize nominees, recorded three of the best financial years in the newspaper's history, and helped establish the Roanoke Times as western Virginia's major newspaper. From 1995 to 1998, Rugaber served as president of the Landmark Publishing Group, parent company of the Roanoke Times.

In 2001, the Roanoker Magazine selected Rugaber as one of the Roanoke Valley's 50 most influential people. In addition to his professional achievements, he has been an advocate of the arts, serving as president of the Roanoke Symphony Society and supporter of the Mill Mountain Theatre. He served as chair of the Roanoke Valley United Way Campaign, served on the Board of the Center for Innovative Leadership, and was a Trustee on the Hollins University Board, most recently serving as Hollins University's interim president from May 2001 to June 2002.