The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has selected the Virginia Tech College of Science’s Pi Day 5k as a Best of District III Award winner.

The recognition comes on heels of the College of Science’s Pi Day 5k being named a 2022 CASE Circle of Excellence award winner, one of three such awards that Virginia Tech won.

The College of Science team conceived of the Pi Day 5k in 2021, aiming for a way to get alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students – scattered throughout the country – to join in an entertaining event.

The communications and marketing team, along with alumni relations, developed a series of social media posts, e-mails, and videos aimed at getting alumni and friends of the College involved. In one video, a Mathematics faculty member calculated how much longer a “Pi 5k” (3.14 miles) is than a 5k (3.1 miles). The team turned his answer into a motivational tagline: “Hokies go the extra 183 feet.”

“We had a lot fun brainstorming and developing really creative marketing pieces for this campaign,” said Lon Wagner, senior director of communications and marketing in the College of Science. “I think our excitement shined through in the race shirt, the social media posts, e-mail text, all of it, and turned it into an event people didn’t want to miss.”

Though the award category was for a staff of more than 25, the College of Science team consisted of four people: Steven Mackay, director of communications; Teresa DeCarmen, assistant director of digital design strategy; Katie Lafon, alumni relations director; and Wagner.

“I can’t overstate how much this was a team effort,” Wagner said. “Communications and Marketing, along with Alumni Relations, worked hand-in-hand. No one worried about job titles, or whose job something should be – we just discussed what needed to be done and did it.”

In the end, the effort struck a chord with alumni. More than 700 people registered, including scores of alumni who had either not joined a college event in a long time or had never participated in one. The College of Science’s alumni participation rate increased by 38 percent the year of the Pi Day 5k.

The College of Science communications and marketing team previously earned a District III Gold award for its What’s Your Science? campaign featuring videos of students talking about why they chose their scientific field of study.