Ren Harman: I will do a little housekeeping at the top and then we'll getstarted. So good afternoon. This is Ren Harman, the project director for VT Stories. Today is October 19, 2017 at about 11:55 AM. I'm here with a very special guest, and sir this is the only time that I will prompt you, if you could just say in a complete sentence my name is, when you were born and where you were born.
Mickey Hayes: Yeah. My given name is Charles Joseph Hayes, Jr., and all my lifeI've gone by my nickname 'Mickey'. Nobody that knows me knows who Charles J. Hayes is, but anyhow, I'm Mickey Hayes and I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 16, 1941. I moved to Norfolk right after Pearl Harbor. My parents moved to Norfolk and then very shortly after that moved to Virginia 1:00Beach, so I was raised in Virginia Beach.
Ren: Can you tell me a little bit about your early life and growing up inVirginia Beach?
Mickey: Well, yeah. We lived on the Lynnhaven River. That's probably the keything, because we were very much boating and water skiing and doing things around the river: crabbing, fishing, all that kind of stuff, so that was a very important part. I enjoyed the river. I raced a B-Class hydroplane in my teenage days and waterskied a lot, and my activities on the river really kept me from being interested in organized sports in high school, so I was not involved in organized sports. I was on the river all the time as a youngster. 2:00
As I grew into my teenage years my parents had an ornamental plant nursery inVirginia Beach out near the oceanfront. I sort of grew up in that nursery in my teenage and high school years around plants and around landscaping. And while all my buddies were all lifeguards and sitting out on the beach looking at the girls and doing whatever lifeguards did, all summer long I hoed weeds between the rows of plants in my mom and dad's nursery.
So, I was very much brought up around plants and landscaping and the outdoors3:00and probably developed much of a green thumb from that, which led me really to where, you know, what I thought I might want to do college-wise and studies-wise and career-wise.
Ren: Yeah. Can I ask you a little bit about your mother and father? You saidthey had a nursery. What kind of people were they?
Mickey: My mom and dad were just plain people, not from any kind of wealth, butfrom real fine families. There's no doubt in my mind about that. My dad was a graduate of Penn State. He graduated in ornamental horticulture at Penn State in 1936, and was a plant person, a plantsman, all of his life, except after Pearl 4:00Harbor when certain levels of more educated people were offered moderate to high government pay ratings to come in and support the war effort. And my dad went in and worked for the Corps of Engineers, and I believe he went in as a #9 whatever that meant. He did that for a few years, but after the war he was ready to get back into the plant world and did, and ultimately they established that nursery at Hilltop in Virginia Beach.
And my dad was very much a plantsman. He was past president of the VirginiaNurserymen's Association, past president of the Southern Nurserymen's Association, an innovator, introduced a number of really interesting new and 5:00different plant varieties. Probably one of the most interesting is a gardenia that is now in the trade internationally called the Chuck Hayes Gardenia, that we could have patented for royalties, but my dad didn't want royalties. He wanted it to be available to the world without a premium. It is now patented but only for name protection. It's extremely hardy and extremely continuous blooming, so if you Google the Chuck Hayes Gardenia you will find out all about one of my dad's most famous plants.
My mom was a housewife until the nursery became established, and then she wentto the nursery every day with my dad and spent the whole day there, worked there, handled customers, what have you, and it was very much a family affair 6:00until they retired.
Ren: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
Mickey: I have one younger brother who is about three years younger than me, andhe sort of followed in my dad's footsteps too. He never finished a college education, but he's very much a talented horticulturalist even without formal horticultural education.
Ren: Being brothers and that close in age were you guys pretty close growing up?
Mickey: Fairly close, but not really. You say three years is close, but itreally wasn't. Mike was not necessarily a fan of the river and boating and such like I was. He was a high school high jumper and had the state record at one time I believe. You know, we were close, but we didn't socialize much together 7:00or play together much.
Ren: You mentioned at the top that you went by your nickname your entire life,so where did Mickey come from?
Mickey: I'm not really sure. My mother and dad would tell you that they pickedMickey out of the sky, out of the blue. My dad was Charles of course, Charles Sr., and he went by Chuck or Chuckie. Most people called him Chuck or Chuckie, and they didn't want me to be called Chuck or Chuckie and they didn't, of all things, my mother would tell you that she didn't, want me to ever be called Junior, and they wanted to give me a nickname to make sure that I never became called or known as Junior, so Mickey. I mean, believe it not, my younger brother is Michael Edward. I'm Charles Joseph, he's Michael Edward Hayes. A lot of 8:00people think that Mickey is a nickname for Michael, but my brother is Mike. But anyhow, I don't know where Mickey came from, but I realized how Mickey had really stuck on me when I graduated from college and went back to Virginia Beach and got my first landline telephone and put my name in the phonebook as Charles J. Hayes, Jr.
Ren: Nobody could find you?
Mickey: Nobody could find me, so I've been Mickey ever since. My signature on mycredit cards, on my checking accounts, on everything my signature is Mickey Hayes. I guess I'm Charles J. Hayes, Jr., but the signature is actually Mickey Hayes.
Ren: Wow. I have four names, so it's Jordan Tyler Ren, so almost everything isJordan and I have to tell them Ren and they think it's a nickname and then 9:00there's this whole discussion about where Ren comes from. It's from a 1980s movie Footloose.
Mickey: Is R-e-n short for something?
Ren: No, just Jordan Tyler Ren Harman. My brother also has four names and he'snamed after my dad. I want to ask you about Virginia Beach and this time when you were growing up. What was kind of the main economies and the culture of that era?
Mickey: Purely tourism. Purely tourism. The historic city of Virginia Beachmerged with Princess Ann County in 1963 to become the new City of Virginia Beach as we know it today. Until the City of Chesapeake came along the City of Virginia Beach was the biggest city in land mass in Virginia and both of them are still among the largest cities in land mass in the country. But when I was growing up, the City of Virginia Beach ran from about Hilltop, which is about 10:00two miles out from the oceanfront to I believe 49th Street at the north end and to Rudee Inlet at the south end, and that was the whole City of Virginia Beach. The north end of the Virginia Beach ocean front was part of Princess Ann County. I don't know, maybe the old City of Virginia Beach went all the way to Ft. Story on the north, but in any event it was much smaller. There was no industry. There was one elementary school and one high school, Cook Elementary School and Virginia Beach High School in those days. I don't know what the population would have been, 10,000, not big at all. 11:00
So anyway, the old City of Virginia Beach was very much tourist-oriented andwith many second homes. In fact, sometimes I would work on Thursdays and Fridays. My parents had a mowing crew that went around and mowed lawns and cared for the plant beds at some of the finer homes on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. 12:00
And I would always go there and work and mow as one of the members of the mowingcrew. I would very much sort of hope that someday I could live like that and have a living environment like that.
Ren: Yeah, I spent a lot of time in the Williamsburg and Virginia Beach area. Myin-laws have a timeshare in Williamsburg, so we visited, is it Ft. Henry?
Mickey: Ft. Story? Ft. Monroe? Ft. Monroe is in Newport News/Hampton.
Ren: This is in Virginia Beach.
Mickey: Cape Henry, not Ft. Henry. Cape Henry is in Ft. Story.
Ren: Oh, okay.
Mickey: Ft. Story is a military base that has some oceanfront along its eastern13:00beach, and then as it turns at the northeast corner it has some bay front on the Chesapeake Bay. And that point where the bay and the ocean come together is called Cape Henry, and Cape Henry is inside that military installation.
Ren: Yeah. When we went in there it was very strict, as you can imagination.
Mickey: Yeah. Yep.
Ren: We were talking earlier, and I always told my wife, I said if we ever movedanywhere I kind of like that Virginia Beach, Williamsburg area outside of Blacksburg and Christiansburg. So, I want to get to Virginia Tech. When did the decision to come to Virginia Tech kind of come into the picture, and how did that happen?
Mickey: We knew that I wanted to go to college and I wanted to be a landscapedesigner, a landscape architect. You know this is in my high school years. I always enjoyed mechanical drawing and drafting and art and the like. I did my 14:00high school graduation term paper on Frank Lloyd Wright. And I wanted to be an architect or a landscape architect, and I leaned more toward landscape architecture because of my upbringing really.
Mickey: And it turned out to be exactly the right thing. Back in the day in thelate 50s when I was contemplating college. I pretty much knew I had to be a Virginia student. We couldn't afford to go out of state, and anyhow I wanted to go to Virginia Tech. We knew of the Horticulture Department at Virginia Tech because my dad had been very active in the Virginia Nurserymen's Association all his life and the Virginia Tech Horticulture Department people had always been 15:00very active in that affiliation too and supporting it and such.
My dad knew those people. In those days they had a degree here in theHorticulture Department called Ornamental Horticulture Landscape Design Option, and that was pretty much right down my alley and that's what we decided on. We came up here and visited and I liked everything I saw. There were a lot of people working on drawing boards and that was my thing and I really liked that. I had three years of mechanical drawing in high school. I went to Princess Anne High School. At that time Princess Anne High School and Virginia Beach High School were the only two high schools in what is now the City of Virginia Beach. 16:00I happened to live in the area that went to Princess Anne High School and I had a great mechanical drawing teacher there, Edwin Applegate and I loved mechanical drawing. You know mechanical drawing and plant materials you know: landscape architecture.
Ren: That first visit when you came to visit the University and the campus, whenyou stepped on the campus can you think back to what it looked like, what it smelled like, how it made you feel when you first saw the campus for the first time?
Mickey: No, I don't know. I think I was too immature truly to have those kind ofemotions. I just probably didn't even take it all in. I don't know, that's a 17:00good question Ren, but I know how I think young people feel when they see Virginia Tech for the first time nowadays, but of course young people today are totally much more mature and worldly than I was. I was not worldly, so I was sort of mentally inside that building where ornamental horticulture was going on, in the greenhouses and in the labs and such, and I really didn't pay much attention to the campus.
Ren: Where did you live your freshman year?
Mickey: My freshman year I lived off campus. It's an interesting scenario.
When we came up here to visit and we decided what we were going to do I did not18:00want to be in the Corps of Cadets. I wanted to be a landscape architect and I didn't want to go to the military after school. At that time, with a few exceptions, everybody had to be in the Corps their first two years. And pretty much everybody continued for their whole four years and went into the Army or the Navy or the Air Force for at least two years. I was not interested in doing that. At that time you didn't have to be in the Corps if you were a veteran or married or a transfer student. So the Horticulture Department folks suggested that I take some courses at what is now Old Dominion University, but at the time it was then the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary, and then 19:00apply to Tech as a transfer student. So I did that, and I applied as a transfer student and it was my option to be in the Corps and I opted not. So when I came here my first quarter on campus, of course I was not in the Corps. I was not going to be over in the military dorms, so we had to sort of figure out my lodging. People in the Horticulture Department helped me find a home out on Airport Road, a private home and I rented the loft there. That first quarter I was in a loft. So, I didn't establish relationships with my fellow rats like everybody else did back then.
Then very shortly after that, well, during that fall quarter I ran into a good20:00friend from Virginia Beach High School who was here also. Neither he nor I knew that each other were here. And Freddy (Fred Dunning) and I moved in to Campbell Dormitory together for the winter quarter that first year I was here. Then spring quarter we moved out and got an apartment downtown on the upper floor of the Ellett Building right on Main Street. So that was the first year I was here. That was my living and that spring also I joined the Dekes Fraternity. Freddy and I both got into the Dekes Fraternity.
My Brothers at Dekes became my best friends in life and the following year I21:00moved into the DKE House and lived there two years. The DKE House was on North Main Street, sort of where Taco Bell is now. I lived there for two years and then in my senior year I got an apartment in town. The best group of guys that I have met in my whole life were those guys that I was in the Dekes with here in the early 60s. Ten or a dozen of them are still my best friends right now, and we get together regularly. I have a football suite and many of the guys in my football suite are old Dekes from that era.
Ren: How did you get interested in joining a fraternity? How did that all happen?
Mickey: Well, Paul Karseras from Norfolk, whose parents had a vacation home at22:00Virginia Beach, and who was at Tech, and Freddy were friends. I had never known Paul, but Paul got into the fraternity the winter quarter of that year, and he just invited Freddy and me to come. I don't know how Paul made his initial connection, but he invited Freddy and me to the house after he got in in the winter quarter. And we loved it and they liked us enough to invite us to join, and we did and we pledged the spring quarter of 1962.
Now back then there was really not much else to do socially in Blacksburg. Atthat time there were only two fraternities. There were two social fraternities. They were both off-campus. One was Sigma Lambda on Roanoke Street, and their house was what's now the SAE House, and the other was DKE. Hey, it was a place 23:00to go and meet friends and have fellowship and socialize and have a beer and that was very appealing to me. I had been in a little high school fraternity and had made strong fast friends there, and the Dekes here was really appealing to me.
Ren: As you mentioned, you weren't in the Corps of Cadets as it was required bymost incoming freshmen before the rules changed and everything later on. What kind of relationships did you have with your classmates that were in the Corps? Was there any type of animosity?
Mickey: No, no, none at all.
Mickey: You know, those kinds of things, the world wasn't that challenging, andpeople weren't vindictive to one another like that back then Ren, they really 24:00weren't. And I had great friends from Princess Anne, from my graduating class at Princess Anne that came here and went right into the Corps. In fact, I think a Princess Anne classmate, Tom Ackiss, I think may have been Regimental Commander of Corps of Cadets, and/or president of his class. We had no animosity. We had a few, although it was not looked favorably upon by the Corps, we had a few members of the Corps who were Brothers in the fraternity, you know, and that would be about, back then, that would be about the only place that they could go or be without being in uniform. And half the time they would come over to the house in uniform and change there. I guess in the early 60s we may have had six 25:00or eight guys that were in the Corps.
I had no dislike for the Corps back then. I just didn't want to shine shoes andbelt buckles and march. I know how important the Corps was then and is to Tech and its alumni now, even more so, as you go through the years you realize that. Back in the early 60s there was only six or so thousand of us here, and the Corps was the "military guy" fraternity really. And that's the way it is now. I admire the kids. I admire our Corps of Cadets. You know, I love seeing them on campus. I know what's going on in their hearts and systems. I go to the Change of Command on the Drillfield. I'm terribly impressed with that, and I think that 26:00the Corps of Cadets right now at Virginia Tech is one of the most important features of this school. And especially the fact that there's the non-military obligation side of the Corps, where they are not necessarily on ROTC scholarships, but they've put themselves in a voluntary military type training environment for the organizationing and dedication skills that will help them be better people and better employees. So I'm a real fan of the Corps.
Ren: Out of all these 100-plus, 115 interviews we've done for VT Stories wehaven't had a lot of people that were in fraternities. I want to ask you, during 27:00the early 1960s what was kind of the life of someone who was in a fraternity and what kind of things, social events or philanthropic events did you take part in?
Mickey: Well, back then there was not necessarily any thought of philanthropy.Back then it was a place to socialize and to define a tighter group of friends, and we did everything together, you know, we did. We had a very nice house and we kept a couple of kegs of Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap all the time. You know a beer card cost $5, and it had a bunch of little 5-cent things all the way around the margin. And whatever you normally drank out of, and back then there weren't really cans of beer, there were a few beer bottles but there weren't cans of 28:00beer, so everybody had some kind of favorite container. And my mug, I've still got my mug that I kept at the DKE House, and you could fill your mug up. Whatever size or whatever it was like you could fill it up for a nickel. And behind the bar we had one of those little hole punches and when you got a beer, or somebody was behind the bar acting as bartender, or if you went back there yourself and you got a beer, you punched, with the holepunch you punched out one of the 5s. And so however many 5s there are in $5 that's how many beers you could get for a $5 beer card. A keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon cost $18. Hey, sometimes there wouldn't be anybody drink beer all week, but on Fridays, we always had clean-up on Fridays for the weekend, had to clean the house and we'd drink some beer then of course. A lot of times girls would be coming to town or we would have dates from Radford or Hollins, so the house had to be neat and clean. 29:00
But it was a lot of fun. I just can't even, you know, I've said it before, but Ihaven't said it for a long time, but I think it's still true this day. I wouldn't erase my memories of my days at the DKE House for a million dollars, no way. That's how important it was.
Ren: So you majored in horticulture and landscape design.
Ren: Were there some professors or advisors that were really important in youreducational career?
Mickey: Oh yes. Oh yes. There were two or three extraordinary professors. JimFaiszt was a graduate landscape architect from LSU and he taught the landscape 30:00architecture focus pieces of ornamental horticulture.
That's the drawing board stuff. Dr. Jake Tinga was a plant materials guy, areally sort of strange guy, but an absolute encyclopedia of plant materials, made you appreciate everything. I remember Dr. Paul Smeal too as an important teacher in the Horticulture Department. But most important was my course advisor who was the head of the Horticulture Department at the time, the Dean. His name was Wesley P. Judkins. And Dr. Judkins was an extremely important part of my education process, and it's a story that I told to Tim and Laura Sands. The first time we met, very shortly after they came to campus... 31:00
Well, Whit Babcock, our new Athletic Director had been over to have dinner withSarah and me just after he got here, and just after Tim and Laura came I was talking to Angela Hayes, a dear friend, but no relation, who is in the Advancement Department over at Burress, and said, "You know, we would love to have Tim and Laura over for dinner to welcome them to Virginia Tech if you think they would be interested." Anyhow, they went for it straight away, and about two weeks after Tim and Laura arrived here they came over for dinner and we had Whit and Kelly Babcock here too to round out the party. And that night Laura and I got talking; Tim and Laura really. Got talking about my experience at Virginia Tech and if there's anything I've ever told anybody about my experience and my education at Virginia Tech, and I've told it to lots of people, it was how important my well-rounded education here was. Of course Tim and Laura bought into this right away because it was already their kind of thinking, and it's 32:00where the educational program here is going today. All I wanted to do here was study things that I thought were going to be directly involved in me being a landscape architect. And that was of course architecture, plant materials, soils, agronomy, things of that matter.
And every quarter I fought like cats and dogs with Dr. Judkins because I wouldhave my, the required courses for that quarter were set up for you, but then you had some electives. And I was always sticking with narrow line electives, and Dr. Judkins would hear nothing of it. We fought every time.
And you know, he thought I needed to be taking accounting. He thought I needed33:00to be taking biochemistry. He thought I needed to be taking physics. He thought I needed to be taking religion, logic, advertising, business law. Man, what do I want to be doing that for? Okay. I want to be studying plants and landscape design and land-planning and that kind of stuff, and he wants me over here in accounting, economics. Well, he pushed me every single quarter I was here, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. And I did have two different opportunities to come back and tell him how much I appreciated that, because when I left school I went right out designing gardens, partially with my 34:00parent's business, helping them, and partially practicing as a landscape architect, but bigger challenges loomed.
But ultimately, well back in those days, I was earning about $100 a week and Ididn't think that I was going to get to where I wanted to be. I still was jealous of those big homes out on the oceanfront that I used to mow grass around when I was a kid, and I didn't think I was going to get there at $100 a week.
So, I looked around at all kinds of things, and a long story short, got involvedin selling real estate part-time at a new little ski resort out in the mountains of North Carolina called Beech Mountain. In the late '60s we went out there just to visit and fell in love with it, and I was convinced that I could sell real estate like the guys out there. In any event, I did that. I sort of morphed into 35:00real estate sales there and that sort of, my career line sort of veered a bit there. But not really, because ultimately what that did was lead me into more of a focus on land planning and resort development and community development, and doing those kinds of things for other people and helping those people figure out how to sell them, because I had now developed some salesmanship talents. And ultimately, I ended up doing that sort of thing on my own account for a while, and then was hired by a very wealthy individual to manage and carry forward an 36:00established resort community on the Outer Banks in the late 70s.
And I really sort of became a land-planner, and from about 1976 through myretirement in 2008 I ran this same company for two different owners. We sold it about halfway through from one owner to the next, but I always had complete autonomy. Neither of the owners of the company were into land use, land-planting or anything of that sort. They were into the oil business and fast food. One of the family's business was in oil in Midland Texas; the other family was a huge restaurant conglomerate from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and they both let me run my whole business. And I would go find a piece of land and we would either 37:00buy it or we would joint venture it with the owner. Then I would sit down and do the basic land plan. Then I would get the engineers to engineer it. Then I would design the covenants and the restrictions, and I would figure out the finances of it. And then I would go get a contractor, various contractors, and I would get the subdivision built. I would build a water plant or a wastewater plant. I would build roads. I would put in utilities. I would get lot lines drawn, and then I would build a sales team. We never used outside Realtors. I always had my own sales team. And I would train these folks and then they would sell my lots.
So it seems I needed to know something about everything. I needed to know allabout economics. I needed to know all about advertising. I needed to know all about logic. I needed to know all about business law. I had two years of business law here and I hated it. And all of a sudden, I'm realizing that around 38:00every single corner is a business law decision. So that is what was so important about Dr. Judkins. I don't know if he had anybody else that fought him that hard, because I never even asked him that, but that was a key thing. And you know, the night that Tim and Laura came here and had dinner the three of us found out that we had very common strong feelings about diversification, what might be called the "T-shaped student". I wanted to stay right here on the stem. I wanted to focus on things that I knew or thought were going to be important to what I thought I wanted to do. And Dr. Judkins wants to force me to be out here on that arm, and I became a "T-shaped student."
And I mean, when I started talking with Tim and Laura about that I had no idea39:00that they had such strong feeling about that. They just sort of looked at me like they had discovered something. Look, here's a pure example. And Laura and I have talked about that every single time that we have been together since. So, Dr. Wesley P. Judkins, you know, thank you Dr. Judkins. I was a well-rounded person. I was highly incentivized by the people I worked for from 1976 to 2008, two different ownership groups. And my success obviously allowed my incentives to be extraordinary, and that's because I was really good at what I was doing and I had a very broad-based education. I surprised everybody by being able to 40:00do everything. I mean I can write a contract for you right now that your attorney would approve. I can write a set of covenants for your new subdivision that in 2017 would still be state of the art. I could write the whole thing, you know. I know how to design an ad and I know how to figure out where to place an ad, and I know when an advertisement is working. I know salesmanship. I had a year of salesmanship here. Well, I can train a salesperson. Right now probably ten of the most successful real estate brokers on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I had my whole career, are people who I trained and managed. Again, thank you Dr. Judkins.
Ten of the 20 most successful realtors out there on the Outer Banks are allpeople that I trained from scratch. One of them was a Terminix man. I got the 41:00basis for all this at Virginia Tech, I really did. I didn't know it, and luckily enough I had the opportunity by way of the people I worked for on the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk Land Company, which was the name of the company and it's still there, they gave me you know, you call it autonomy. And I never left a stone unturned. That's something I learned, too.. I left no stone unturned to make sure that I delivered on what I said I was going to do. In fact, sometimes, I mentor young people here that I feel can handle a statement like this:
If you have your designs on something that you want to do, and somebody is42:00offering you the opportunity, you need to tell them whatever you need to to get the chance. As long as you are willing to leave no stone unturned you need to tell them whatever you think they need to hear from you and about you to get them to give you the opportunity. But then you better darn well leave no stone unturned to produce, and that's what I did for the people who had confidence in me.
Mickey: You know, when I decided I was going to sell real estate out in themountains in North Carolina, I went out there and met with the developer, a very sophisticated marketing group, and I told them things about myself. I already had a real estate license at the time. I had gotten it mostly just to have it for additional education really. But I told them things about my ability to sell that weren't quite 100%, but I knew darn well that if they would give me the 43:00chance that I was going to do it, and I did, you know. And I think that that's a really important thing. I think young people ought to seek every possible door that might be out there to go through, and then they've got to do something to open that door. And when they go through it they've got to be 100% dedicated to working on, or fixing whatever is on the other side.
Ren: What I find so interesting about this conversation is higher educationdefinitely in the last ten years or so is moving towards this what you are talking about, this whole student taking a biology major you are still taking classes in liberal arts. If you are an engineering student take a music class. Become well-rounded. That's the whole approach of Beyond Boundaries with Virginia Tech.
Mickey: Hmm, it certainly is.
Ren: VT Stories is a byproduct of that, because you know, I'm out of the School44:00of Ed for my graduate studies, but I'm in the English Department. We work with people in the History Department, the library, the TLOS, the Technology Learning Online Services Group, and there's just a mix of different people, different ideas and different perspectives. And what I find so fascinating even as you are talking about Dr. Judkins in the 1960s was even tapped into this then and how it served you in your whole career. I believe that's why President Sands and Dr. Laura Sands were so fascinated probably by this story, because obviously it served you well and this is kind of the push of Beyond Boundaries and kind of what we're trying to do.
Mickey: I understand that. When they had dinner here that night and they weresort of shocked or fascinated by me volunteering this, I mean they somehow led 45:00the conversation into somehow about I think about my education here? Something like that, I don't know.
But they had that in their mind. They had the Beyond Boundaries thing in theirminds. Maybe they hadn't articulated that phrase, but they had that in their mind. And here I was saying this is what I... I've told 500 people that Ren about Dr. Judkins forcing me to be diversified. And I mean I'll tell you, I'm so so fortunate, because I really am convinced that that made me the more rounded person. That made me able to do all the things that I was able to do, way beyond what I had ever dreamed that I would be capable of doing in my early life.
Ren: So this idea of mentorship, you were talking about some of these faculty,46:00how were you mentored here by people like Dr. Judkins? And then early in the conversation we kind of talked a little bit about you mentoring current students now and a group of people, so how has mentorship kind of played out throughout your life?
Mickey: Well, with regard to here at Virginia Tech, it seems to me it is safe tosay that I was truly "mentored" over in the Horticulture Department where I spent all my time, or most of my time other than in classes in other areas. In fact, I even worked over there. I had a drawing table over there and I did landscape plans for the Extension Service all over Virginia. Somebody would ask them how do I plant plants around my house and they would forward that to Virginia Tech. They would send photographs and I would draw plans, so I spent a 47:00lot of time over there not just in class, but working on an hourly basis to design landscape plans and such.
And the whole thing over there, not so much Dr. Judkins, because he was reallymore administrative. He taught a couple of classes, but the teachers, Dr. Smeal, Dr. Tinga, Jim Faiszt, those guys were mentors rather than teachers. I mean we had class you know, and we had tests and we had to get grades and all that kind of stuff, but they were just like working alongside us. It was a totally mentor program in horticulture.
So, I don't know that that had a lasting effect on me or how I went about mywork and my career and my world, but for the first 15 years I didn't mentor 48:00anybody. I was so busy trying to figure out where I was going. I was very much into community activities in Virginia Beach. I joined the Jaycees and was president of the Virginia Beach Jaycees. I joined the Virginia Beach Sports Club, ended up being president of the Sports Club.
Ren: What's the Jaycees?
Mickey: Junior Chamber of Commerce. You probably never heard of the Jaycees.
Mickey: Yeah. Well, back then the Jaycees was a young men's organization thatdid community service and brought together like-minded people who had 49:00entrepreneurial spirit and that kind of thing. One could not be a member beyond age 36. But anyhow, I was very involved in those kind of things, thinking that I needed to meet people and needed to figure out how to network. I began to be in politics in the old city of Virginia Beach. Local politics at the time was very interesting and it was very helpful to know the right people, and I was mostly working on that in my early years. After that, when I sort of got my feet under me then I was always a teacher. Anybody that was working with me or for me I was helping them, and that got even more and more important to me and how I did my 50:00life and my work as the years went along. The last 15 years let's say of my working career I was a huge mentor. I taught and taught and taught. Excuse me. 51:00
Sorry about that.
Ren: No worries at all.52:00
Mickey: Mentor, well, my big mentoring as my career wound down was teachingsalespeople how to sell and developing procedures and scripts and such and teaching them how to sell, how to handle a client when they walked in the front door of the model home, etc. Like I said earlier, I created a bunch of really strong young people most of whom didn't have any background in real estate, and that's the kind of person I wanted to train you know. If I was putting a new resort on line and I wanted ultimately eight sales people, I would like to have 53:00five or six who had no real estate sales experience at all, because I wanted them to learn it my way and our way, and that requires teaching and mentoring, so that was a natural for me.
In fact, it got to the point where we sometimes had multiple developments inoperation, in development, and in the sales phase. I had to hire outside land planners just because I couldn't do it all. And during that era I was really sales manager, sales director for our company, and that's all about mentoring 54:00because it's day to day. Every situation they run into is different and you've got to help them through that. You've got to sit with them at night when they are making cold calls on the phone, help them understand.
So when I retired in 2008 I had a bunch of, I still had a bunch of young peoplethat were relying on me and that's 2008, okay. About 10 o'clock this morning I had a call from one of them, Jackson Jordan, now a very successful real estate broker on the Outer Banks, called me today for some advice on a situation, so, you know. On Thanksgiving each year for some reason there's two or three guys that send me "thank-you" cards or call, not necessarily for Thanksgiving wishes, but it's an opportunity to say thank you. So mentoring was very important, and 55:00when I moved to Blacksburg I wanted to, it wasn't so much reconnect, because I had always stayed connected and supportive of my fraternity, but here I was, somebody with a lot to offer I thought, so I was very interested in helping them. They are off campus and they need some leadership, mentoring. They are a good group of kids now, they really are, but I really was interested at the time, we moved here in April of 2009, and so I have become very involved there. I will deal with two or three guys a semester will come to me, they realize that I care about them and they will want some advice on something and they will come 56:00here to the house and chat.
In recent years there have been two Brothers that were in architecture andlandscape architecture who we really bonded because of my background, and I really worked with them and helped them with a couple of their projects. I would show them things that I was doing and I'm still active in a consulting basis. I do a lot of landscape and hardscape plans here and in the Bahamas where we have a home. I've even done a major land plan for a resort in the Bahamas in the last couple of years. So I've shared that with the two young men in the Dekes who were architects. So, you know, mentoring is very important to me, and it was happening to me maybe more than I realized back when I was in school here, but I 57:00don't know if that answers your question or not Ren.
Ren: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. So we've talked a lot about some good memoriesat Virginia Tech and experiences you had at the DKE House with your major and professors. Were there any difficult times that kind of stick out in your mind, or times you were struggling as a student?
Mickey: No. I never struggled as a student. No. The only time that, the biggestchallenge that I can remember was when we came up here to visit before I was a student I was going to drive us back home to Virginia Beach. I will never forget going down Christiansburg Mountain the first time on 460. That was the first time I had ever gone down a hill where I wasn't sure if I could keep the brakes on or what. That's the big thing I remember. [Chuckles] No.
The only challenge I might say is come the spring of my graduating year I was58:00really ready to go, I really was. I was ready to get away from here and get on with my life. If I could have gotten away without going to class the last quarter I probably would have said to heck with that man. I'm gone, I will come back for graduation. But other than that, no. I had a great college career and I actually enjoyed all my classes. I did great in everything, you know, I really did. High school chemistry, I couldn't figure it out if my life depended on it. College chemistry clicked. Biochemistry, I was straight As in biochemistry. I was straight As in genetics. I was straight As in physics, solid geometry, everything. I really dug what was going on, even though a lot of the classes 59:00were things that Dr. Judkins forced me to take.
Ren: Right. I want to ask you a couple of questions and these are kind of broadquestions. If someone simply says the words Virginia Tech what's the first thing you think of?
Mickey: I guess the disaster. Because that hurt me so bad. I truly cried for amonth, and you can ask my wife if you don't believe me. I mean seriously cried. I couldn't believe what had happened to Virginia Tech, to this place I love so much. I feel an affinity for Virginia Tech, a love like, it's not human, but I 60:00mean I can go... I remember one day in the last year, over on the east side of town somewhere, elevated looking down and I saw the campus, or most of the campus, you know. And I just got this feeling. I said you know I love that thing like it's not just a university or something, I love it. This is a thing that I love, and I really do feel that way.
Mickey: I don't know if that is a good answer or not. When I think aboutVirginia Tech I think about the Dekes. I think about my old fraternity brothers 61:00who are still my best friends, and eight or nine of them whom I will see this weekend. That's a strong thing. Virginia Tech football means an awful lot to me too and it has since I graduated. I joined the Hokie Club in 1967 three years after I graduated and was very involved from then on, so Tech athletics is important. The Virginia Tech Athletic Fund, which is the Hokie Club, the fundraising arm of athletics, in the early days was called the Virginia Tech Student Aid Association.
And I was, because a group of older important Hokie Club guys saw something in62:00me that maybe I didn't, they invited me to sit on the Board of Directors of the Student Aid Association in the late '60s. So I was there with Gordon Bowman and Frank Mosley, Jerry Claiborne and all those guys, coaches, and I felt I had really no business being there. I was so young, and for the first couple of years I really didn't participate very much in active discussion or votes because I really felt unqualified. But in any event, I was introduced to Virginia Tech athletics from the inside out very early on, and developed an affinity for Virginia Tech athletics, and at the time football was the thing 63:00that I was most interested in. We got a bid to the Liberty Bowl in '66, which was fantastic. That was back when bowl bids really were bids. And then we got another bid in '68, so we went to the Liberty Bowl twice.
You know they asked me to be involved and I got involved, and like I say, I saton the Board, and I've sat on the Board of the Athletic Fund a couple of different times since then, but I was on the inside looking out back in the Frank Mosley and Jerry Claiborne days when Gordon Bowman was the president of the Hokie Club. That was a pretty extraordinary thing. So when I think of 64:00Virginia Tech I think of the Hokie Club. I think one of the neat things, when the Hokie Club was young or when I was just first involved, was we used to have a very small group of about 20 of us on the board and a few big donors were always invited over for pre-game for a social at Solitude, which is the historic house by the Duck Pond. At the time H. Mac McEver, who was the director of the Hokie Club, he and his wife lived in Solitude, and they would open up their house for a little pre-game social you know. And that was really something special, because I would go there and rub shoulders with Dr. Hahn and Gordon Bowman and fine Tech supporters. 65:00
None of the coaches or athletic staff would go to any of those functions, butthe people whose names I knew were really important, big donors, Howard Gray, George and Bev Middleton, Bob Dorey those guys were always at those functions, and here I was you know, 27 years old. So you say Virginia Tech, the Hokie Club means a lot to me, Virginia Tech football, unfortunately the disaster, and you know, if you would ask my wife, she would say she would volunteer, you don't even have to ask her, she would say she's the mistress in my love affair with Virginia Tech. That's what Sarah says. If she was here I am sure she would verify that.
Ren: Even at this early state of after you graduated you became involved in the66:00donating and being active in these boards and things. Also a member of the President's Circle, the Skelton Conference Center, the basketball practice facility. There's a training room named after you, correct?
Ren: And why do you think so many Virginia Tech alumni like yourself becomeinvolved with the University in philanthropic ways or volunteering? What is it about Virginia Tech that makes their alumni like even myself also to become involved?
Mickey: That's a hard question Ren. It's not fair because I don't know what itis that gets into all of us. Maybe it's in the water. I don't know, really. People don't love their university for the most part like we do, but we do, you 67:00know, and I don't know why, I really don't. In earlier times probably the root of it might really have been the Corps bonds formed early on, and it's contagious and you get it by osmosis because I've gotten it even though I was never in the Corps.
Mickey: It may well be where we came from and the fact that so many of thepeople who are influential now and able to support the University with their time and their money and their enthusiasm mostly all were bonded through the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. And I would say that that, if there is anything that might explain how unique it is that we have this bond and love for Virginia Tech, it was probably the seeds that were planted in the Corps of Cadets when 68:00most of these people were first here as rats. Their dedication is clearly on display, and it is very contagious. Recent alumni have caught the "disease" from them I guess.
Do you think, is that fair? Could that be an explanation?
Ren: Yeah, I think so. And you know, it's not unique I think for people to lovetheir alma mater, but there is something about Virginia Tech that I think alumni really latch onto and they really want to support their University in some shape or form. And I think it's just a combination of things. I think it's the quality of programs that we have here. I think it's the area in which Virginia Tech is situated. It is a university town surrounded by mountains and we have a lot of legacy, a lot of alumni whose parents went here, whose brothers and sisters went here. And I think Virginia Tech just runs through so many families.
Mickey: That's another good point.
Ren: And it becomes just central to, I mean my own family and out of these69:00interviews that we've conducted we see that a lot for sure. I want to ask you about changes that you've seen over time. If you could give advice to the president or the provost or anyone in administration, what would you say to them and what advice maybe would you give them?
Mickey: Well, right now I almost don't feel like I'm qualified to give advice toTim and Laura or the Provost. You know those guys are out of the box thinkers, and I already know that their underpinnings, where they think the educational system here should go are all what I already feel. If a new president and 70:00provost were here and not necessarily espousing a diversified student then I would feel like I would have advice. And give it two or three years, God willing I'm still here, and we see how well they have formed that, how all that's working, I may have some advice. Right now I say stay the course you guys. Academically keep us on course. Keep us reasonably diversified. I think we have an extraordinary level of ethics at Virginia Tech in academics and in athletics, 71:00and so no advice there either at this point.
I'm on the inside of athletics every day and I know that nobody needs to tellanybody over there what to do right now in order to succeed or to keep their noses clean, they really don't.
You know 36 months ago let's say, I was personally afraid for a lot of things.Dr. Steger had announced his retirement. Betsy Flannigan was ill and somewhat reduced in her ability to work. Jim Weaver, our Athletic Director was sick to 72:00the point of being almost ineffective. God rest his soul, a great guy. Lu Merritt, the director of the Hokie Club had announced his retirement. One of the most important people that's ever been at Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer, had let the game get a little bit ahead of him and we needed something there, and James Johnson, our basketball coach was in over his head I'd say.
Three years ago that was the condition of things. If you really cared aboutVirginia Tech all of these things were important parts and what was going to happen? Well then look what happens. Tim Sands, the epitome of what Virginia 73:00Tech needed as a new president, and his right hand, wife Laura, who is as smart as a whip, you know, the First Lady. Okay. Then Tim participates in the selection process and we get Whit Babcock and Whit is an absolute wizard. Everybody knows that. He's a gentleman. He's smart. He has everything figured out. Whit goes and finds Buzz Williams who is a teacher-mentor beyond anybody 74:00that has ever been involved in athletics at Virginia Tech, and a great basketball coach too, but a teacher and a mentor of kids to replace JJ.
Then, Whit handles the transition of Frank. No doubt Whit and Frank talked. Idon't know this story at all, but it may have just been Frank on his own decided to retire a year early, I don't know. But in any event, he generously announced it to Whit early enough that Whit was two steps ahead of everybody else in the hiring year that we got Justin, and Justin Fuente is, you know, he's the Buzz Williams of football. He's the most perfect fit for Virginia Tech. Let's just look at that, okay.
Mickey: So I mean let's look at the power structure in Burruss Hall and theJamerson Center now. Look at the guys that are there.
Ren: It's an all-star team.
Mickey: And then, absolutely an all-star team. And then they talked CharliePhlegar into coming back to Blacksburg, you know, probably the most pre-imminent fundraiser in college advancement at the time. And Charlie's here and Charlie quite handily takes Betsy's reigns, or even at a higher level. They sort of created a new position for Charlie, the most outstanding fundraising leader in academia.
And then, the last key to the thing, you know, Lu Merritt is retiring and has76:00had a great run as the director of the Hokie Club and Whit hires Bill Landston, who is as business as business can be. He knows the fundraising business for athletics and all of these spots where I had true concerns for my University all have been filled in my opinion by the very best group of people that we could have possibly gotten.
Ren: Yeah, exactly.
Mickey: So hey, that's where we are right now, so how could I give anybodyadvice? When you take that group of people that's an all-star team.
Ren: It is. I completely agree. The last couple of questions and I'll get out of here.
Mickey: That's okay. I hope you can tell that I don't mind talking aboutVirginia Tech.
Ren: No, I don't either. I could stay here all evening. What would you like77:00people to know about you?
Mickey: What would I like people to know about me? Well, that I love my life andI love my wife. Okay, here it is. I would like you all to know, and I'm not afraid of my mortality or anything, and I'm not sick or anything, but I would like you all to know that I am sad that I'm not going to be here to see all the remarkable things that this dream team is going to do in the next 15 years in 78:00Blacksburg, Virginia. I mean, I went the other night to see the new campus land plan. I'm sad that I'm not going to see the plan for, and I forget what the target year was, maybe 2046. I forget what the target year was. And I'm sad that I'm not going to see the complete rollout and success of the V-shaped student. I'm just not going to be here long enough. I'm 76 years old, and I'm not having any health problems. I'm not thinking about dying, but what I can tell you young people is that this is a remarkable place and remarkable things are happening, and you are all lucky to go out of here with a degree from Virginia Tech and 79:00it's going to mean more and more and more.
And you know, I can't quote this exactly, but it's been about a year agosomewhere at a university thing and I was talking with then-Provost Thanassis Rikakis, and he said along the lines that it wasn't their goal to make Virginia Tech a top ten public land grant university. It was their goal to make Virginia Tech a top ten university period. Now he said something like that, and he wasn't just, you know, he wasn't just schmoozing me. He really believed that, and I believe that. If people set goals and they are achievers you get your goals.
There's no reason on earth why Virginia Tech can't be everything that Thanassis80:00and Tim and Laura think it can be, and Charlie Phlegar. I understand that we've had, since Charlie came, since Charlie and Bill came I can confirm that university giving percentage-wise, alumni generally giving to the University has gone up from 9% of living alumni to 12. Tim told me that at the Clemson game. Carly Northup from athletics was down with Sarah and me in the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago for a couple of days and I got to talking with her and I told her what Tim had told me at the Clemson game about general giving. With my involvement in athletics fundraising I knew we were sitting at 4%, we were 81:00sitting at 4% of living alumni giving to athletics. Carly told me they are now up to 6. So, University giving has gone from 9% of active alumni to 12, and athletic giving has gone from 4 to 6. And 4 to 6 is a 50% increase, and that's pretty remarkable.
Charlie Phlegar and I are good friends, Charlie is past president of the Dekes,so we're old friends from that angle too, but I know that part of the reason Charlie accepted this job, aside from being a Blacksburg boy and being a Hokie, and probably if he wasn't those two things he might not have ever left Cornell to come here, but I know that part of his excitement about coming here was the fact that there was so much potential. I mean it's maybe sad that we were only at 9% then, but that just means we had 91% to go. If you were already at 28% 82:00that would only mean that you had 62% to go or something. So Charlie has got all the room in the world to grow.
Ren: Right. The last question, and thank you so much for being so generous withyour time, is there anything you want to say or anything I didn't ask that you thought I would, or just anything you want to say at all?
Mickey: No. The only thing I've got to say is I wish I was still working makinga lot of money like I used to, so I could give more to Virginia Tech and help all these people reach all their goals. Because that's really important to me.
Ren: Well, thank you so much for sitting down with VT Stories and really sharingwith the world what a Hokie really is. I will say Mickey Hayes class of 1964, thank you so much sir.
Mickey: You are certainly welcome Ren. It's my pleasure.83:00
Ren: Thank you.