ROANOKE – Virginia Western Community College dedicated the Maury and Sheila Strauss Family Student Life Center on Friday in recognition of the philanthropic leadership of the Strauss Family. Maury Strauss, a Roanoke business leader and founder of the Strauss Development Corp., donated $1 million to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation to support innovative initiatives to support students and the region’s economic development.

“We are honored to celebrate the dedicated student opportunity bolstered by the vision of the Strauss’ philanthropy,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Their support will make a true difference in our students’ lives and will help drive a strong future not only for Virginia Western but for our local community as well.”

The $1 million gift from the Strauss Family launches the public phase of the Virginia Western Educational Foundation’s unrestricted endowment campaign. The initiative is called the Virginia Western Forward Endowment Fund, a vision of Dr. Charles W. Steger Jr., in honor of the Foundation’s late Board of Directors Chairman and President of Virginia Tech.

“Charles believed fully in the role of the community college to change lives and to serve as a catalyst for regional economic growth,” said Neil D. Wilkin Jr., Chairman of the Foundation Board of Directors and President & CEO of Optical Cable Corporation. “This permanent endowment will enable Virginia Western to do just that – to flexibly pioneer opportunities in academic instruction and career training, financial aid in the form of scholarships, equipment, workforce development and more.”

While relatively rare nationally among community colleges, unrestricted endowments are known for being impactful. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $15 million and with the Strauss donation, it has identified gifts in excess of $4 million already.

“The Strauss Family’s $1 million naming gift drives our endowment plans forward,” said W. Heywood Fralin, member of the Foundation Board of Directors and Chairman of Medical Facilities of America. “I encourage those here and in our communities to follow their example in paving the way to a brighter future by engaging in their own philanthropy and by reaching out to others to help us move Virginia Western Forward.”