New Corps of Cadets residence hall named in honor of J. and Renae Pearson
April 22, 2015
The new Corps of Cadets residence hall due to open in August 2015 has been named in recognition of James and Renae Pearson, an alumni couple who made a tremendously generous commitment to the corps and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"We are delighted to recognize these two extraordinarily accomplished and generous Hokies by naming this prominent new facility Pearson Hall," Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands said. "This naming could not be more fitting. J. and Renae actually met while living in Rasche Hall on our Upper Quad. Pearson Hall is a major part of our modernization of that portion of campus."
J. Pearson, who goes by his initial, earned his bachelor's in agricultural and applied economics in 1987 from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Renae Pearson earned her bachelor's in family and child development in 1990 from what is now the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. They live in Lavonia, Georgia.
Pearson Hall is one of three new buildings that are part of a sweeping overhaul of the Upper Quad. The other two buildings are an additional residence hall, yet to be named, and the proposed Corps Leadership and Military Science Building.
In its new residence halls, the corps intends to recognize the men for whom the older residence halls were named: former professors Col. William Mayo Brodie and William Henry Rasche, and Medal of Honor recipients and alumni Jimmie Waters Monteith Jr. and Herbert J. Thomas Jr. Within the new buildings, the corps also intends to honor all other Virginia Tech alumni who have received the Medal of Honor.
J. Pearson credited his experiences in both the Corps of Cadets and the agriculture and applied economics program with preparing him for professional success.
"I studied agriculture and applied economics, and that education, combined with the strictness of the corps, enabled me to be successful in business down the road," said J. Pearson, who was a member of the corps' F Troop during his first two years of school and K Company as a junior and senior.
"We just think it's such a great program," Renae Pearson, also a former member of K Company, said of the Corps of Cadets. "It's something so unique to Virginia Tech, and it brings a lot of pride to the university."
J. Pearson founded Carry-on Trailer Inc., which grew to become the nation's largest manufacturer of trailers, trailer parts, and related accessories. When he sold the company, in 2010, it had more than 1,000 employees. In 2013, J. Pearson founded P & L Enterprises LLC., a private equity firm.
Pearson Hall will contain 234 dorm rooms and have study and lounge spaces on each level. The 101,422-square-foot building will have five above-ground floors; a basement; and a room for storing the corps' cannon, Skipper, which is fired during many corps events and after Virginia Tech touchdowns or field goals at Lane Stadium.
The Pearsons are members of the President's Circle within Virginia Tech's Ut Prosim Society of donors. J. Pearson was a member of the Gold Cord Committee during the university's most recent fundraising campaign, chairs the fundraising committee for the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building, and is chairman of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Board of Directors. He also is a professor of practice within the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
"J. Pearson and his wife, Renae, both alumni of the corps, epitomize the life of service that our corps members aspire to," said Maj. Gen. Randy Fullhart, the commandant of cadets. "By starting and growing businesses and continuing to be active leaders at their alma mater and in the corps, they are an inspiration. We are proud that their name and their story will be prominent on the first of two new residence halls for the corps."