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Duncan Endowment for Graduate Student Travel

For several years, Mike Duncan has provided financial support and encouragement for our graduate students to travel as a group to national ASCE Geo-Institute conferences, to meet practicing engineers and to develop networking skills. To make their attendance at these conferences possible, they receive support that pays their conference registration fee, half their air fare, and a small stipend to help with expenses. The students work together to cover the rest of the costs. The experience they gain interacting with practicing engineers in a professional setting has become an important part of the education of geotechnical engineers at Virginia Tech. If you have attended these conferences, you have witnessed the strong participation and the professional bearing that characterize our graduate students. There is no doubt that this experience has great value for our graduate students.

Duncan Endowment for Graduate Student Travel
Virginia Tech geotechnical engineering students at Geo-Institute Conference

All of us on the geotechnical faculty want this tradition to become a permanent feature of the geotechnical engineering program at Virginia Tech. The Duncan Endowment for Graduate Student Travel is being established to make this possible, and it will honor Mike’s 50+ year career, teaching and supporting the professional development of countless geotechnical engineers. His impact on the profession has been profound.

Duncan Endowment for Graduate Student Travel
Duncan Endowment for Graduate Student Travel

Our goal is to raise $400,000. This capital amount will yield about $16,000 yearly for student travel and conference fees, sufficient to send 25 to 30 students per year to the annual Geo-Institute conference wherever it is held in the country. With the endowment, this program can continue in perpetuity.  Proceeds from the endowment will not be used for any other purpose than to enhance the professional development of geotechnical graduate students at Virginia Tech.

Mike and Ann Duncan have given $50,000 to the endowment fund, and several individuals and firms have also contributed generously.  We hope that you will join them.

To recognize the endowment supporters, the following sponsorship levels have been established:

  • Platinum: $15,000 and above
  • Gold: $10,000 to $14,999
  • Silver: $5,000 to $9,999
  • Bronze: $1,000 to $4,999
  • Contributor: $100 to $999

Contributions made during the first year of the campaign are preferred, but contributions can be made in the form of pledges to be filled over a three-year period. Your contribution will be fully tax deductible.

How to Donate:

To make a contribution, you may write a check to the “Virginia Tech Foundation”. On the check, write a note that the donation is for the 861199 Duncan Graduate Student Travel Endowment. Mail the check to Marilynn King, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Virginia Tech, 750 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

To make a contribution using a credit card, go to  Select either One-time, Monthly, or Annual, enter the amount you would like to give and click the give button.  Skip the Select an Area and elect a Fund drop down menus and go straight to Search for an area to Support box.  There is no drop down choice for the endowment fund so you will need to type out 861199 Duncan Graduate Student Travel Endowment and click the + Add a fund on the right so that your donation will get to the travel endowment fund . Click on Add this Gift to Your Cart and proceed following the remaining instructions for completing your donation.  

When you donate, if you would like to make sure your donation gets in the correct place, you may send an email message to Mary Hunter at and she will confirm that your donation has been properly processed.

Mike Duncan has devoted himself to the geotechnical engineering profession, and he has continued to contribute since his retirement eight years ago. Mike has resisted being recognized by retirement dinners, named lecture programs, medals, etc. However, establishment of this endowment and its purpose is near and dear to Mike’s heart, and it will provide a means of continuing what he has contributed to the profession.

If you have any questions, please let us know. Tom Brandon can be reached at 540-231-4544 or, and George Filz can be reached at 540-231-7151 or

Donors to date include:

Platinum Level Sponsors:

  • Ann and Mike Duncan
  • Rudy and Anna Bonaparte (GeoSyntec)
  • Hayward Baker
  • Pat and Sally Lucia
  • Ray and Carol Martin
  • Treviicos Corporation
  • Kai S. Wong
  • George and Lindy Filz
  • Terra Site Constructors, LLC on behalf of Babur R. Mian

Gold Level Sponsors:

  • Schnabel Engineering Associates
  • Anne and Wayne Clough
  • Langan Engineering
  • Yoshio Ozawa
  • Geopier Foundation Company

Silver Level Sponsors:

  • Tom and Aida Brandon
  • Allen Cadden
  • Condon-Johnson & Associates
  • Ed Idriss
  • Dominic Parmantier
  • Kathy and Al Sehn
  • Rick and Andy Valentine
  • Kord and Kavita Wissmann
  • Jim and Holly Mitchell
  • John Duncan, Mary Duncan, Susan Duncan Lee and Evan Lee
  • Burns Cooley Dennis, Inc.

Bronze Level Sponsors:

  • John Bishchoff
  • Tim D’Orazio
  • Community Foundation (Ann Stamford)
  • Scott Mackey
  • Rich Zeigler
  • Meeok Kim
  • David Meadows
  • Vernon Schaefer
  • Carl Benson
  • Adrian Rodriguez-Marek
  • Brian Metcalfe 


  • Bill Marcuson
  • Arthur G. Hoffmann
  • Daniel VandenBerge
  • Patrick Gilmartin
  • Bryan Waisnor
  • Sandy Simpkins
  • Qamar Kaxmi
  • Alex Reeb
  • Mary Hunter
  • Michael P. McGuire
  • Matthew D. Sleep
  • Barry Milstone
  • Daniel Woeste
  • Mark Gutberlet
  • Carmine and Lisa Polito
  • JT McGinnis
  • Ray Martin 
  • Daniel Osmun
  • Alba Yerro Colom
  • Russell Green
  • Bernardo Castellanos
  • Nina Stark
  • Paul T. Johnston
  • Thomas T. Moore
  • Arthur H. Walz
  • Kaleigh M. Yost
  • Fitzhugh W. Rawls
  • Steve McMullen
  • Anuran Paul
  • Kord Wissman