- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

RICHMOND — Virginia Tech will use $3.2 million — almost half of the money donated to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund in the aftermath of the recent shooting massacre — to create 32 funds to honor each of the victims.

The funds, individually set up in the names of the 27 students and five faculty members killed in the April 16 shootings by student Seung-hui Cho, are fully endowed at $100,000. The victims’ families will determine how the money will be used, university officials said yesterday.

A fund was not set up for Cho, who ended the massacre by taking his own life.

The fund, set up immediately after the mass shootings, the worst in recent U.S. history, has received about $7 million in donations from nearly 20,000 sources — ranging from the New York Yankees to Little League baseball teams.

“People all over the world could not have been nicer for showing their support for Virginia Tech,” said Elizabeth Flanagan, a school vice president. “We had no idea how manyfriends we really had.”

Miss Flanagan recalled a conversation with a Hurricane Katrina victim who despite having lost his home called to say he was sending $10 to show his support for the “Hokie family.”

“It is one big family, and now we have a lot of extended members,” Miss Flanagan said.

Officials anticipate the first awards from each fund will be made this fall.

“It’s a noble gesture,” said Paul Turner, father of Maxine Turner, 22, of Vienna, Va., who was killed just weeks before she was to receive an honors degree and start a chemical-engineering job. “The school is definitely doing a lot of things to try and support the families of the victims.”

However, Mr. Turner also thinks the gesture shows the school is acknowledging “there were some errors made on the day and they’re trying to put things right.”

He said money from the fund also should go toward such causes as helping siblings of the victims to pay for undergraduate degrees.

Virginia Tech plans to use some of the money to pay for undergraduate education expenses for children of deceased faculty members, and financial counseling and mental health services for victims’ families.

The school also intends to help pay tuition and fees for injured students through spring semester 2008 and some of their medical costs. The fund also will pay for family advocates to work with the victims’ families and make sure they receive proper services in a timely manner.