Sutphin and Bush: What Virginia Tech’s over-enrollment means for Blacksburg

The following commentary originally appeared in The Roanoke Times on May 26, 2019:

Since Virginia Tech made headlines for surpassing its student enrollment goals, there’s been an understandable tension in Blacksburg.

The university had a target of 6,600 incoming freshmen, but it overshot that number considerably. The official release from the university puts the incoming student population between 7,500 and 7,585 students, but this assumes a higher-than average percentage of students who accepted this spring will not enroll in the fall. If this “melt” rate is the same as previous years, the incoming class will have approximately 7,625 students, or 1,025 over Virginia Tech’s admissions target.

That’s a lot of students — 1,340 more than last year’s incoming class and almost 800 more than the university’s largest-ever freshman class in 2017. For comparison’s sake, The Edge student apartments adjacent to campus has about 910 bedrooms. Continue reading “Sutphin and Bush: What Virginia Tech’s over-enrollment means for Blacksburg”

Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions

The following op-ed originally appeared in The Roanoke Times on Dec. 7, 2014:

The logjam over the Old Blacksburg Middle School property has some doubting whether the 20-acre site in the heart of downtown Blacksburg has a future beyond an empty lot and occasional spats between governing bodies. But it certainly does.

Government handwringing over the property is not without cause: For the town, it has the potential to extend downtown with a high-quality, mixed-use development that adds to Blacksburg’s commercial and residential offerings. For the county, it brings much-needed revenue for a school system that has faced cuts from Richmond, as well as a pressing need for new schools in Blacksburg and eastern Montgomery County.

My colleagues Leslie Hager-Smith and John Bush have already explained the intricacies of town-county relations and the reason for the current impasse — namely, the contract between the county and its hand-picked developer, Fiddlers Green Partners. Despite these challenges, a solution does exist that will benefit both the town and county. Continue reading “Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions”

The Roanoke Times endorses Michael Sutphin

Today, The Roanoke Times endorsed Michael Sutphin along with incumbents John Bush and Leslie Hager-Smith for Blacksburg Town Council. The editorial board provided two key reasons to vote for Michael:

First, he represents the future of Blacksburg. This is an excellent time to elect a newcomer with fresh perspectives. The rest of the council is stable and well qualified. Sutphin therefore would have an opportunity to learn from experienced members and perhaps become a civic leader for years to come. … Second, Sutphin is just the sort of young professional Blacksburg strives to attract and retain. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2006 and has been a public relations specialist for the university since then. That means he still is close enough to the student community that he could bring insights to improve town-gown relations.

Check out the full endorsement on The Roanoke Times website.

Sutphin campaign picks up key endorsements

Citizens First, a Blacksburg group that advocates for open and responsive government, endorsed Michael Sutphin for town council today:

Sutphin has demonstrated his firm understanding of Town issues during his service on the Long Range Planning Committee, and has been a strong advocate for collaborative governance, vibrant citizen democracy, and development of Blacksburg’s technology sector. He will serve as a bridge to a younger generation of Blacksburg residents. Continue reading “Sutphin campaign picks up key endorsements”

Michael Sutphin announces bid for Blacksburg Town Council

Community activist and young professional Michael Sutphin has entered the race for the 2011 Blacksburg Town Council election.

“This November, we must elect forward-thinking leaders who understand why ‘kitchen table’ issues matter in a tough economy and who will make sure our local government remains open, accountable and responsive to the people,” Sutphin said.

In his bid for town council, Sutphin is promoting an approach to local government that allows the town to grow and prosper while maintaining its quality of life. He is running on a platform of economic development, regional cooperation, smart growth and neighborhood integrity. Continue reading “Michael Sutphin announces bid for Blacksburg Town Council”