Maury Strauss, a Roanoke businessman and a longtime community benefactor, has made a $1 million gift to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI), announced Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the institute and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology.

The gift will ensure Roanoke-Blacksburg area residents will continue to learn about cutting-edge research discoveries directly from some of the world’s top scientists at the VTCRI’s Distinguished Public Lecture Series — the institute’s hallmark outreach event.

Renamed the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series, the new season begins Thursday with a presentation by Anthony Rosenzweig, the chief of the cardiology division of Massachusetts General Hospital, who looks at the cellular and molecular effects of exercise to see what they can teach us about treating heart disease.

“Roanoke has been my home since 1937,” said Strauss, the founder of the Strauss Development Corp., a real estate development firm. “I love the community and I made my living here, so I decided it was time to give back. I’ve always been impressed with the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. It is a driving force, bringing these wonderful scientists to Roanoke and boosting the economy.”

In the process of attending lectures and events at the VTCRI since it opened in 2010, Strauss met Friedlander, Friedlander's wife Sandra, and some of the institute’s other top scientists, such as Sharon Landesman Ramey and Craig Ramey — Roanoke City’s chief science officers.

“We are extremely grateful for Mr. Strauss’ support for the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and his view of its role as a driving force in the Roanoke Valley. It is very fitting that the institute’s premier lecture series should be named in his honor,” Friedlander said. “On behalf of myself, my wife Sandra, Virginia Tech, the entire VTCRI and most importantly, the entire community, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Strauss and his family. His gift is very humbling, and it challenges us to work even harder to understand and solve some of the most pressing scientific and health care questions in the nation and to continue to connect to the community at large that has welcomed and embraced our faculty, staff, and students at the VTC Research Institute.”

The gift to the VTCRI is not the first the Strauss family, which includes his late wife, Sheila, and their children Lesleigh Strauss, Steve Strauss, and Marc Strauss, has made to benefit the area. 

In 1968, the family conveyed 26 acres to the County of Roanoke for a recreational area long known as Strauss Park and Garst Mill Park, donated by Maury L. and Sheila Strauss.

In addition, Strauss is a supporter of Virginia Western Community College. His dedication to arts and culture in Roanoke spans a broad spectrum, including support for the Taubman Museum of Art, The Jefferson Center, Roanoke Children’s Theatre (which he helped establish), Opera Roanoke, Temple Emanuel, and Mill Mountain Theatre. Through Strauss’s generosity, the Taubman has created the Sheila and Maury L. Strauss Art Venture Endowment. 

Most recently, Strauss was honored in the Arts category at this year’s Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College

Among his accomplishments, Strauss has served as a commissioner of the Virginia Public Building Authority; president of the Roanoke Valley Homebuilders Association and the Virginia Homebuilders Association; and as director, executive committee member, and president of Mill Mountain Theatre.

He received his bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia.