Jacob “Jake” A. Lutz III '78 has been well aware of the impact of Virginia Tech research for practically his entire life.

“Virginia Tech has world-class faculty engaged in work across all disciplines, and this research has been impactful in Virginia, around the country, and across the globe,” Lutz said. “Growing up as the son of a research faculty member, I saw it from that perspective. I’ve seen it in my leadership roles at Tech, serving on the Board of Visitors, including as rector, and as a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation board and alumni association board.”

Lutz is now making his own impact on both Virginia Tech research and researchers with the establishment of the Jacob A. Lutz III Awards for Eminent Scholars Endowment.

“Research is a critical part of Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, so being aware of the university’s award structure, I wanted to do something that would both reward and incentivize faculty engaged in this world-class work,” Lutz said.

The $1.15 million endowment will fund the annual Jacob A. Lutz III Presidential Awards for Research Distinction for four faculty members — one per disciplinary category — at $10,000 each. Each Lutz Award will recognize long-term, substantive contributions to research and creative scholarship across the faculty’s career in one of the following categories:

  • Science, engineering, and technology
  • Health and life sciences
  • Humanities and social sciences
  • Arts and design

“We are tremendously grateful for Jake’s commitment of support for the impactful research, innovation, and discoveries Virginia Tech faculty are working toward each day,” said President Tim Sands. “The scope of these awards illustrates our broad expertise, our interdisciplinary approach, and our commitment to our motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).”

The establishment of the Lutz Awards comes on the heels of a second straight year of Virginia Tech externally funded research awards and expenditures growing by more than 10 percent.

“This is a very exciting time for Virginia Tech research and made even more so with the announcement of these awards,” said Dan Sui, senior vice president and chief research and innovation officer. “They will not only honor our researchers’ hard-fought efforts, but will provide critical support as we continue to grow opportunities for fulfilling our land-grant mission for years to come.”

Recipients must have three years of service at Virginia Tech and a ranking of associate professor or higher. Award funds are unrestricted, including personal and professional use.

Lutz said he worked with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost in developing categories that would encompass the wide range of work of Virginia Tech researchers and ensure all areas of faculty research would be eligible.

“Our faculty are at the forefront of innovative research across a diversity of topics and disciplines,” said Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost. “The Lutz Awards recognize the importance of this mission and will help inspire high-impact, transdisciplinary work for years to come.”

portrait of donor
Jacob “Jake” A. Lutz III.. Photo courtesy of Jacob “Jake” A. Lutz III.

Lutz earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1978 and attended William & Mary Law School, where he graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1981. He practiced banking, corporate, and securities law for over 40 years in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Richmond, most recently with Troutman Pepper where he was a partner for over 30 years.  Following his retirement from the practice of law, Lutz serves as a fellow at The Pepper Center for Public Service and lives in the greater Richmond area with his wife, Robin Rexinger Lutz.

He has served in a variety of capacities at Virginia Tech, including two terms on the Board of Visitors from 2000-08 and rector from 2006-08, during which he helped guide the university through the aftermath of April 16, 2007.

Lutz’s father, Jacob Andrew Lutz Jr., was a professor of agronomy at Virginia Tech from 1949-78 — the Jacob A. Lutz Teaching Greenhouses were named in his honor — while his mother, Elizabeth Sue Jennelle Lutz, worked in the university’s Purchasing Department for more than 30 years.

Lutz said the endowment was inspired not only by seeing the importance of Virginia Tech research first-hand, but also seeing the important role of university awards, including the William E. Wine Award and University Sporn Award, played in encouraging such pursuits.

“This is not only in recognition of the world-class research being conducted at Virginia Tech, it’s also with the hope of providing some incentive to do even more,” Lutz said.


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