Pearsons provide leadership gift to Tech athletics to help launch next phase of facility renovations


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BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech Athletics Department announced Thursday that it will launch a new fundraising initiative to renovate the entire fourth floor of the Jamerson Athletic Center courtesy of a generous gift commitment from longtime athletics and university benefactors James “J.” and Renae Pearson.

The Pearsons, who both graduated from Virginia Tech and both served in the Corps of Cadets, currently live in Lavonia, Georgia. This contribution to Tech Athletics is in addition to a gift the couple made to their alma mater in 2015 benefitting the Corps of Cadets and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In appreciation of their tremendous philanthropy, the university dedicated the new Corps of Cadets residence facility and officially named it Pearson Hall.

Thanks to the continued generosity of J. and Renae Pearson to their alma mater, Virginia Tech student-athletes and other Hokies will benefit from a fabulous multi-purpose facility on the fourth floor of the Jamerson Athletic Center.

“J. and Renae Pearson embody the spirit of Ut Prosim that we hold so near and dear to our hearts at Virginia Tech,” Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said. “They both share a deep affinity for this place and our students, including our 579 student-athletes. We’re extremely grateful for their continued support of Tech and especially this generous contribution that will impact each and every one of our 22 sports for years to come.

“The new fourth-floor renovations and new nutrition/dining center will aid us in recruiting, enhancing the student-athlete experience, generating revenue and donor stewardship, and continuing the upward trajectory of our athletics brand at Virginia Tech,” he continued. “We still have a way to go in fundraising, but J. and Renae helped jumpstart this project and we are ready to announce this initiative publically.

“The former Bowman Room served us well since 1982,” Babcock concluded. “This new fourth-floor project will be expanded to 9,000 square feet and be completely renovated, including a seamless connection to the Cassell Coliseum concourse and a beautiful view of campus. These upgrades will enable us to utilize this space 300 times a year rather than 50 times a year. It’s truly a difference maker for us.”

In addition to the nutrition/dining center, plans also call for the space to be utilized for donor/fan hospitality, recruiting efforts, graduation ceremonies, meetings and other functions. The Pearson’s gift allows work to begin on what is expected to be an estimated $16 million project. A start date for construction is desired for 2018, but is pending further fundraising efforts and Board of Visitors approval.

“On behalf of our staff and our student-athletes, I can’t thank the Pearsons enough for their commitment to Virginia Tech and their continuing generosity,” Tech football coach Justin Fuentecommented. “The sports nutrition program is a key component in our efforts to assist the overall development of the young men on our team. This gift enables us to better serve our players, and it helps us stay competitive with other top programs in the nation, not just in football, but in all sports.”

“Our role as coaches is to make a difference in the lives of our student-athletes,” men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams added. “Just like professors and instructors at Virginia Tech, we’re here to challenge young people. We’re here to help them grow and develop. J. and Renae may not have the title of ‘coach,’ but their commitment to giving back to Virginia Tech and our students demonstrates that they’re making a difference, too. We’re glad to have so many great Hokies like them supporting us at Virginia Tech.”

While conceptual plans are still being developed, the completed fourth-floor project is anticipated to feature panoramic views of Lane Stadium and a balcony overlooking the Steve Johnson Practice Field.

Current renderings and designs allow for large events or more intimate team meals in a 9,000-square-foot space that also will house a full kitchen in addition to featuring the latest audio-visual technology.

J. Pearson was raised on a family farm near Warrenton, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and applied economics. He earned a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard, where he served for nine years. He is currently the founder and managing director of P & L Enterprises, a private equity firm. Renae graduated in 1990 with a degree in family and child development. She enjoyed a career teaching sixth grade and kindergarten until the couple’s two children were born. She now manages the family businesses. Their two children are currently students at Virginia Tech. She has a passion for all Virginia Tech squads, especially the Hokies’ basketball programs.

The Pearsons are members of the President’s Circle within Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim Society of donors. J. currently serves as Corps of Cadets alumni board chairman, Executive board member and Chairman of the Audit Committee for the Virginia Tech Foundation board. He also is a Professor of Practice for the Agricultural and Applied Economics department. Renae is a member of the Dean’s roundtable of advisors for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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