Norris and Wendy – By Peter Means

December 7, 2021 — The largest ever gift by a Virginia Tech alumnus will advance a long-awaited project to replace an aging engineering building with what will be the largest building on the university’s Blacksburg campus.  Norris Mitchell ’58 and his wife, Wendy, have committed $35 million to the Virginia Tech College of Engineering. The gift will go toward construction as well as activities and programming for a showcase building for the college, which will replace the more than 60-year-old Randolph Hall.

Per approval of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the new building will be known as Wendy and Norris E. Mitchell ’58 Hall. Plans are for Mitchell Hall to be 284,000 square feet and contain classrooms, instructional labs, space for student team projects, research labs, and office spaces for faculty, staff, and students. Significant space is also earmarked for student advising and a variety of collaborative uses by students and faculty. Norris Mitchell’s personal story began in Virginia’s Carroll County, where he grew up without running water or electricity in his home. He entered college on scholarship and worked his way through Virginia Tech in a co-op program. Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1958.

“My mother was a schoolteacher and principal, and the value of education has been clear to me ever since I was a boy,” said Norris Mitchell, who was an aerospace executive with several leading firms before transitioning careers to found companies in real estate and banking. “Virginia Tech equipped me with the knowledge and skillset to have an extremely fulfilling career across several industries. I appreciate the university’s key role in my life. Wendy and I are happy to be able to make this gift to help Virginia Tech prepare tomorrow’s engineers.”