Virginia residents who graduate from any of the seven high schools in the Chesapeake Public Schools division and meet certain academic criteria will automatically qualify for scholarships at Virginia Tech, under terms of a recent, $1.29 million donation to the university from the Harry Bramhall Gilbert Charitable Trust.

The gift, made late in 2010, is the largest ever by the Chesapeake-based trust, which also has made major scholarship donations to the College of William and Mary, James Madison University, and the University of Virginia.

The trust is named for Harry Bramhall Gilbert, a former Navy officer and architect who died in 1982 while a resident of Norfolk. Retired attorney Stuart Glasser, of Chesapeake, administers the trust along with Robert Larson, of Henderson, Nev., who is the brother-in-law of its namesake.

Glasser said he and Larson are confident Gilbert “would wholeheartedly approve of our decision to establish this meritorious scholarship fund at Virginia Tech.”

The trust endowed more for the scholarship at Virginia Tech than at other universities because a greater number of Chesapeake students tends to enroll there each year, Glasser said.

Chesapeake Public Schools alumni can qualify for a one-year scholarship if they have at least a 3.4 grade point average after earning 90 or more Virginia Tech credit hours. There are several limitations on who is eligible – transfer students and students working toward a second degree are not, for example. Students need not demonstrate financial need in order to qualify for the scholarship.

“Amid the continuously rising cost of college tuition and fees, even middle income families, especially those with more than one child, are finding the cost of a college education a significant financial burden,” Glasser said. “We are delighted that the Virginia Tech Foundation has accepted the management and the administration of the Harry Bramhall Gilbert Meritorious Scholarship … to help ease this financial burden for Chesapeake families.”

The first scholarships under the program are expected to be issued in August 2011. The scholarship is structured so that a percentage of its market value will be divided equally among qualifying students each year.

Based on patterns of enrollment and achievement at Virginia Tech by students from the Chesapeake school division over the past few years, approximately 40 students are expected to qualify for scholarships, said Glasser.

Chesapeake Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Patricia Powers called the scholarship “a truly extraordinary opportunity for our Chesapeake students.”

Powers also said: “We are most grateful to Mr. Glasser and to the Harry Bramhall Gilbert Charitable Trust for this generous educational gift. I think we know that the gift of education is one that lasts a lifetime and certainly is one that is going to be most appreciated.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.