Hours before the official launch of Virginia Tech's most ambitious fundraising campaign to date, the extraordinary generosity of longtime supporters Garnett and Patsy Smith will be highlighted at a ceremony naming the university's Career Services Building in their honor.

The Garnett E. and Patsy T. Smith Career Center plaque will be unveiled Saturday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the building, located at the corner of Washington Street and West Campus Drive. The Smiths, who have committed more than $10 million to The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, will be present along with other major donors later in the evening at the official campaign kickoff ceremony. That ceremony starts at 6 p.m. in a 26,000 square foot tent outside the Holtzman Alumni Center.

Garnett Smith is a Southwest Virginia native who in 2000 retired as CEO of Advance Auto Parts. Neither he nor his wife Patsy attended Virginia Tech, but, recognizing its importance in the region, they have supported numerous university initiatives with endowments, including the Art Museum of Western Virginia, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Equine Medical Center, the Skelton 4-H Center at Smith Mountain Lake, University Libraries, Virginia Tech Athletics, and the President’s Discovery Fund, a pool of unrestricted funds.

The financial goal of The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future will be considerably greater than any campaign ever launched by the university. The campaign comes in a period of increased competition among universities, private and public, to distinguish themselves in both research and teaching. In this environment, private donations often provide the margin of excellence that allows top-tier universities to stand out.

Heading into the public phase of its campaign, Virginia Tech has been able to set an unprecedented goal for itself, largely because of the success of the quiet phase of the campaign, launched in July 2003. During that phase major donors such as the Smiths have committed considerable support.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. 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 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.