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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

Donors will be recognized on a permanent version of this website, which will be accessible from Virginia Tech’s Geotechnical Engineering website and from the website for VT’s Center for Geotechnical Practice and Research.  Donors contributing $4,000 or more will be further recognized with a leaf on the “Grove of Sharing” located in the lobby of Patton Hall, the home of the Virginia Tech geotechnical engineering program.

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:

Write a check to the “Virginia Tech Foundation”. On the check, write a note that the donation is for the Duncan Graduate Student Travel Endowment. Mail the check to Rachel Atwell, Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Virginia Tech, 750 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

To contribute using a credit card, go to Click on the “Give Now” button. Enter the amount of your donation. In the drop down menu for Select an Area choose “College of Engineering” and in the drop down menu for Select a Fund choose “Other” and in the Designation Box type “Duncan Graduate Student Travel Endowment”. Click on Add this Gift to Your Giving List and proceed following the remaining instructions. If you donate this way, please send an email message to Rachel Atwell at so she can confirm that your donation is 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
  • Hayward Baker
  • Pat and Sally Lucia
  • Ray and Carol Martin
  • Treviicos Corporation
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, Virginia Tech
  • Kai S. Wong
  • George and Lindy Filz
  • Terra Site Constructors, LLC on behalf of Babur R. Mian

Gold Level Sponsors:

  • Schnabel Engineering
  • Anne and Wayne Clough
  • Langan Associates
  • 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
  • Ann Samford
  • Scott Mackey
  • Rich Zeigler
  • Meeok Kim
  • David Meadows
  • Vernon Schaefer
  • Carl Benson
  • Adrian Rodriguez-Marek


  • Bill Marcuson
  • Art Hoffmann
  • Dan 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
  • 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