Virginia Western Community College announced Tuesday that the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust has committed $5 million over five years to create an endowment for scholarships at the college. About 75 percent of the funding will be used for scholarships in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and health care.
“Like all communities, the economic future in the Roanoke Valley is dependent on the steps taken to ensure success,” W. Heywood Fralin, co-trustee of the Fralin Charitable Trust, said in a statement. “... The focus should be in areas where clusters of business activity exist. n the Roanoke Valley, we have a health-care cluster, and it should have a priority focus.”
The donation is the largest ever made to the Virginia Western Educational Foundation, nearly doubling its assets to $10.9 million. The gift moves the Virginia Western Educational Foundation from the
16th largest foundation among the 24 in the Virginia Community College System to the fourth.
It’s also the largest donation dedicated to scholarships in the history of the Virginia Community College System and one of the largest for community college scholarships in the country.
“Virginia Western is extremely grateful for the generosity of the Fralin Trust, Heywood and William Fralin,” said Robert H. Sandel, president of Virginia Western. “Their support will make our community stronger as we can see more students pursue STEM and health care fields. Those are the areas where local businesses are seeking qualified workers, and this gift allows the college to respond to the needs of the local economy.”
Virginia Western maintains the second-largest enrollment, behind only Virginia Tech, of postsecondary institutions in the Roanoke region. Eighty-five percent of Virginia Western’s graduates remain in the Roanoke area, and 65 percent are enrolled in programs that fill the workforce needs of the region.
The Fralin family has long been involved with higher education in Virginia. The late Horace G. Fralin, co-founder of Fralin and Waldron Inc. and a graduate of Virginia Tech, endowed a charitable trust that has provided significant gifts to Virginia Tech and numerous charities throughout the Roanoke Valley. W. Heywood Fralin and William H. Fralin Jr. administer the trust.
Heywood, chairman of Medical Facilities of America, is the former rector of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors, served on Virginia Tech’s Boards of Visitors and was a key player on the state’s Top Jobs legislation as chairman of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. William Fralin, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2004-10, is the president and CEO of Medical Facilities of America and director emeriti of the Virginia Western Educational Foundation Board of Directors.
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