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Macfarlanes honored for support of VWCC

The Honorable J. Granger and Mrs. Anne Macfarlane of Roanoke, have received the 12th Annual Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. The Macfarlanes were nominated for the award by Virginia Western Community College. The award was given at a luncheon ceremony at the Country Club of Virginia on Tuesday, April 18.

Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, this annual event honors leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of more than $10 million dollars to Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Mr. Macfarlane currently serves Virginia Western Community College as member of the Local Advisory Board and Finance Committee of the Local Advisory Board. MacFarlane has been the President and Owner of Eastern Motor Inns, Inc. since 1971. He serves as Managing Director of the Virginia Eastern Company, L.L.C. in Roanoke and has been a Director of RADVA Corp. since 1977. Macfarlane served as a Member of the Virginia Senate from 1984 to 1991.

“We are fortunate at Virginia Western to benefit from having someone on our Local Advisory Board with the valuable insight and perspective Granger holds on so many important issues,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “He is a class act, and a wonderful ambassador for Virginia Western.”

In addition to his leadership and guidance, Mr. Macfarlane and Mrs. Macfarlane have supported the Virginia Western Educational Foundation with an annual scholarship to provide students of the hotel, restaurant, management degree program with financial assistance for tuition and textbooks. They have also established an endowment to benefit the students of Virginia Western Community College’s Community College Access Program (CCAP).

Chancellor Glenn DuBois expressed his gratitude in his address to the crowd on Tuesday. “You are difference-makers. You are opportunity-creators. We thank you, not just for the dollars donated, but for the standard of leadership you represent. Your example motivates and challenges us all to do more to ensure that opportunity is there for those who come next.”

Keynote speaker John O. “Dubby” Wynne, chairman of GO Virginia and Reinvent Hampton Roads, said he was honored to be a part of the event and he emphasized the generous donations he and others have made are having a positive impact on the communities Virginia’s Community Colleges serve. “In many instances, your gifts are the difference between average or good and excellent in student performance,” he observed.

Wynne also issued an appeal to members of the audience to increase their level of support to help train and educate Virginia’s workforce for economic growth.

VWCC presents Community College Impact Award to the family of Joan F. Brenner

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation presented the 2017 Community College Impact Award to the Estate of Joan F. Brenner, in recognition of her Legacy Society gift of $50,000 in support of student scholarships. The award was presented March 22 at the Educational Foundation’s Annual Awards Ceremony.

One of the highest honors the College can bestow, the Community College Impact Award serves to recognize significant philanthropic and community support by individuals, corporations or organizations that will provide perpetuating benefits for Virginia Western, its students and the region at large.

A lifelong Roanoke resident and graduate of Jefferson High School, Joan Falkenstein Brenner passed away at the age of 73 on May 30, 2016, after a courageous battle with declining health. Mrs. Brenner was the widow of Bruce Brenner, her husband of 50 years and owner of the family business, Cycle Systems Inc. Her estate is represented by her three sons: Scott Brenner of Scottsdale, Ariz., Jay Brenner of Virginia Beach and Neal Brenner of Roanoke.

Mrs. Brenner’s Legacy Society gift reflects a lifetime of commitment and generosity to her community and her family.

“My mother felt it was extremely important that all of us find ways to contribute to the Roanoke community to ensure its long-term growth,” said her son, Scott Brenner. “This is especially the case for Virginia Western Community College, where both she and my dad saw the importance of an educational institution that offered a variety of services beyond the classroom.”

A lifelong member of Beth Israel Synagogue and Temple Emanuel, Mrs. Brenner demonstrated an indefatigable commitment to the Roanoke Jewish community and the tenets of Judaism. Whether welcoming new members, preparing meals, or serving the Beth Israel Sisterhood, she provided leadership and support whenever and however necessary.

Her strong sense of civic responsibility wasn’t limited to her own religious community. She volunteered for Planned Parenthood, the American Heart Association, served on the boards of Carilion Children’s Hospital and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and charitably supported Virginia Western Community College, The Taubman Art Museum, and CHIPS of Roanoke, among others.  A world traveler, Joan was a multidimensional woman who fulfilled an active curiosity with diverse hobbies and interests, including gourmet cooking, opera, avid participation in book and investment clubs, and walks on the Roanoke Greenway.

Virginia Western’s Legacy Society pays tribute to those who have named the Foundation as a beneficiary of a planned gift.

“Joan was an inspirational human being,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western Community College. “Her dedication to Virginia Western and her benevolent foresight in planning for the educational enrichment of our students is a remarkable and indelible gift to the community.  So many lives will be forever changed by her legacy.”

For more information about the Foundation’s annual Community Impact Award or Virginia Western’s Legacy Society, contact Donor Relations Coordinator Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or 540-857-6962.

Virginia Western presents 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award to Dr. Carol Swain

The Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation has recognized Dr. Carol Swain (’78), a Vanderbilt University professor of political science and law, as recipient of its 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Swain was honored March 22 at Virginia Western’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Ceremony.

Dr. Swain is a nationally recognized author, public speaker and political commentator, and the author or editor of seven books. Her scholarly work has been cited in two Supreme Court cases; her fields include race relations, immigration, representation and evangelical politics.

Dr. Swain was born in impoverished conditions in Bedford as the second of 12 children. She dropped out of high school in the ninth grade but later received her GED and enrolled at Virginia Western Community College. After graduating from Virginia Western with an associate’s degree in business merchandising, Dr. Swain earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Roanoke College (’83, magna cum laude), a master’s degree in political science from Virginia Tech (’84), a doctorate in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (’89) and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University (’00).

As a student at Virginia Western, Dr. Swain fondly recalled working at Brown Library and receiving encouragement from then-library director David Hillman to further pursue her education.

“Virginia Western’s faculty and administrators helped create the conditions for my success,” Dr. Swain said. “I was able to work full-time nights and weekends at Brown Library while I attended college full-time at Roanoke College. The encouragement I received from David Hillman was instrumental in my decision to pursue graduate school rather than settle for a position as a library assistant. Had he not encouraged me to continue my education, I might still be a library assistant.”

Swain’s first book, “Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress (Harvard University Press),” won the Woodrow Wilson prize for the best book published in the U.S. on government, politics or international affairs in 1994, and was cited by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in Johnson v. DeGrandy and by Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor in Georgia v. Ashcroft.

Her other books include “Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise (Thomas Nelson Press),” “Debating Immigration (Cambridge University Press)” and “The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration (Cambridge University Press),” which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  She is co-author of “Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds (Christian Faith Publishing, 2016).”

Dr. Swain’s opinion pieces have been published in CNN Online, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and USA Today. She has appeared on ABC Headline News, BBC Radio, NPR, CNN’s AC360, Fox News’ Hannity, Fox and Friends, Lou Dobbs Tonight, The PBS NewsHour and The Washington Journal.

She has served on the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is a foundation member of the Virginia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Before joining Vanderbilt in 1999, Dr. Swain was a tenured associate professor of politics and public policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

“We are especially proud to honor a Virginia Western graduate who has achieved such a significant scholarly career,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western Community College. “Dr. Swain has devoted herself to advancing her education and setting a positive example for others.”

Established in 2006 by the Virginia Western Alumni Association, the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Virginia Western Community College alumni and former students who have attained extraordinary distinction in their professional field or life and serves to honor all the men and women whose attendance at Virginia Western helped them achieve their educational and professional goals allowing them to better serve their communities.


Prior Distinguished Alumni honorees: 

2016 – Dr. Mary Loritsch (’74) and Chief Michael Crawley

2015 – Debbie Yancey (’97)

2014 – Chief Craig S. Harris (’00) and J. David Wine (’73)

2013 – Cheryl Cunningham (’86)

2012 – Anne Hogan (’76)

2011 – Carolyn Webster (’81)

2010 – Russell H. Ellis (’80)

2009 – Shirl D. Lamanca (’75) and Dennis R. Cronk (’72)

2008 – Donna L. Mitchell (’81)

2007 – Dr. Kent A. Murphy and Charlotte C. Tyson (’84)

2006 – John B. Williamson III (’75)

For more information on the Virginia Western Alumni Association, see virginiawestern.edu/alumni or contact Donor Relations Coordinator Amanda Mansfield at amansfield@virginiawestern.edu or (540) 857-6962.