Blackwood family donates $10M to Va. Tech real estate program – Virginia Business Magazine

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Tech names program after Blackwood Development Co. family

The Blackwood family. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s real estate program will now be named for the Blackwood family, a familiar name to those in the state’s real estate industry.

Willis Blackwood, founder and president of Richmond-based Blackwood Development Co. Inc., his wife, Mary Nolen Blackwood, and their children, Morgan Blackwood Patel and Nolen Blackwood, have donated $10 million to Tech’s real estate program, the university announced last month. The family previously donated $2 million to the program in 2018.

Willis and Mary Blackwood graduated from Virginia Tech in 1972 and 1973, respectively, and their children, Morgan and Nolen, graduated in 2002 and 2010. The family of Hokies has been avid supporters of Virginia Tech for years.

“We are deeply grateful to Willis, Mary, Morgan, and Nolen for supporting the university in so many ways over the years, and we’re proud to name the Blackwood Program in Real Estate in recognition of their extraordinary generosity and engagement,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in a statement.

“Real estate has been my profession for 48 years,” said Willis Blackwood, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from what is now the Pamplin College of Business. “It has been a great industry in which to operate and has been rewarding personally and financially.”

Virginia Tech’s 350-student real estate program has grown over the past seven years, and ranks third among the nation’s top university real estate programs on GreatBusinessSchools.org.

“Willis has worked with us from the very start of the program,” Kevin Boyle, director of Virginia Tech’s Blackwood Program in Real Estate, said in a statement. “He has provided financial and personal support from when it was just a startup idea. He participates in classes, chairs the industry advisory board and supports student scholarships. He’s been as active as an alumnus could be in enhancing student successes and advancing recognition of the program. Quite simply, we would not be where we are today without his support.”

The gift will create new opportunities, such as hiring more faculty and marketing the program to increase enrollment.

“Some prominent ways earnings from the Blackwood endowment may be used are to enhance resources with two additional tenure-track faculty in order to improve the teaching, to support student experiential learning, to send students on trips to see real estate sites, and to participate in professional conferences, to bring experts to campus for enhanced learning, and for diversity scholarships,” Boyle said in a statement.

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