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Al Pollard Memorial Foundation gives $500,000 gift to Virginia Western Community College

By Web Staff, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 22 2013 01:54:03 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 07:47:01 PM EDT

Virginia Western set to create the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program

ROANOKE, Va. -

The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation announced Thursday that it has designated the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at Virginia Western Community College.

The $500,000 gift will provide scholarships for students interested in working in local restaurants, catering, and dining establishments.

Pollard owned Corned Beef & Company, Frankie Rowland’s, and 419 West. A group of friends started the program to carry on his legacy.

Here is the news release from Virginia Western Community College:

The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation (APMF) and Virginia Western Community College announce the designation of the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program. The $500,000 gift will provide scholarships for students pursuing promising careers in local restaurant, catering and dining establishments, as well as funding to support the future development of the culinary program.

As a training ground for the Roanoke Valley’s future chefs, the Culinary Arts program at Virginia Western has long benefitted from the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation’s generosity. Since establishing the Al Pollard Memorial Scholarships through the Virginia Western Educational Foundation, the fund contributed $202,000 to benefit 67 Culinary Arts students at the College.

Virginia Western established the Culinary Arts Program to include an Associate’s degree in fall 2007. The program is housed in the Claude Moore Center of the Roanoke Higher Education Center. At the same time the College began the culinary arts program, the APMF was established in memory of Al Pollard, a Roanoke restaurateur. Pollard owned well-known establishments including Corned Beef & Company, Frankie Rowland’s and 419 West. A group of friends and colleagues wanted to honor Pollard by continuing his legacy.

“When Al passed, we established the Memorial Foundation right away. Our goal is to keep the memory alive of a man who was always eager to make contributions to our community,” said APMF board member Charles Johnson. “Providing scholarships for students pursuing their culinary goals in the Roanoke Valley fits perfectly with Pollard’s spirit of giving.”

In spring 2013, 135 students completed culinary courses, with the majority of students seeking the Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and other students seeking the Culinary and/or Baking and Pastry Certificates. Since the inception of the program, 112 students have graduated with the AAS or one or both of the certificates.

Virginia Western President Dr. Robert H. Sandel said the investment by the APMF since the beginning of the College’s culinary arts program means more students are able to access the high demand field.

“The College specializes in educating students in the career fields that get jobs,” he said. “The strength of the Culinary Arts Program faculty and facilities, coupled with the impact of the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation’s gift, provides a direct pathway to personal and professional success.”

Virginia Western Educational Foundation President Edwin C. Hall said the impact of the gift extends beyond the students’ time on campus to positively affect the economic vitality of the Roanoke region.

“The Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program continues a legacy of generous contributions by the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation on behalf of Virginia Western students,” he said. “The scholarships and program support provided by the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation allows local entrepreneurs to follow their dreams of working in a world-class kitchen, opening their own business or landing a quality job close to home.”

Classes for the fall 2013 semester at Virginia Western began on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation and Virginia Western Community College announced the naming of the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program during a gathering of scholarship recipients, Virginia Western faculty and staff, APMF corporate sponsors and board members, and friends of the culinary program on Thursday, Aug. 22.