The staff of the Community Design Assistance Center, a program of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, recently received the university's 2008 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

Members of the Community Design Assistance Center include

  • Elizabeth Gilboy, director of the center;
  • Kim Steika, landscape architecture project coordinator;
  • Terri Fisher, outreach coordinator; and
  • Maxine Lyons, program support.

Established by the university’s Commission on Outreach and International Affairs with the support of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers, are awarded a $2,000 cash prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Outreach Excellence.

Known for its sustained, outstanding engagement with communities, the Community Design Assistance Center has worked with approximately 200 communities, provided more than 370 student jobs, and has provided more than 60 faculty with meaningful opportunities to engage with community and students.

This work has led to millions of dollars in external funding, improved the lives of thousands of people, and fostered economic, social, environmental, and health-related improvements to communities across Virginia.

Through its work on Lost Communities of Virginia, a publication and larger initiative focused on documenting and bring awareness to Virginia’s once thriving rural communities, the center also shows the seamless potential between research and outreach.