The following is an open letter to the Virginia Tech community from new President Tim Sands.

To the Virginia Tech university community,

As we embark together on the next leg of Virginia Tech's journey as an institution that is continually reinventing itself to best prepare the next generation for the future, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the path we have followed, and to offer a perspective on the road ahead. I'd also like to thank all of you for welcoming Laura and me so warmly into the Hokie Nation.

As you already know, Virginia Tech is a very special institution. It is one of a handful of public universities that combines the land-grant mission with a 21st century balance in the portfolio of academic disciplines, featuring a strong core in science, engineering and technology complemented by excellence in the humanities, arts and social sciences along with selected professional programs. Combining balance with collaboration across the disciplines further distinguishes Virginia Tech.

There has never been a time in the history of American higher education when the interplay between the traditional disciplines has been more important to the success of the student, the research mission, and our engagement imperative. The challenges of the day and the intellectual and personal development of our students require nimble minds and organizations.

If I were given the opportunity to design an institution for the coming century, it would look much like Virginia Tech. The credit for positioning Tech so well for the future rests with this hard working university community and its visionary leadership over the generations.

I could have arrived at the analysis above without ever meeting a Hokie. If I had stopped there, I would have missed the truly distinctive characteristic of Virginia Tech and its people. The motto, Ut Prosim or "that I may serve," is embodied in every Hokie we have met. 

 In 1896 when the motto was adopted, Ut Prosim reflected the commitment of the Corps of Cadets to serve this nation by keeping it secure. As Virginia Tech has evolved, so has the scope of the commitment to service. With the Corps still central to the service mission, the commitment to serve is now a call to serve humanity from everyday interactions with individuals to service on a global scale.

 While we demonstrate our commitment in the Big Event, the Relay for Life, and hundreds of other projects across the university, the primary function of Virginia Tech is to prepare each member of the next generation of Hokies to serve at the highest level of their potential, raising their aspirations and lowering barriers as they develop the skills and attain the knowledge necessary to make a positive impact on the human condition.

 You might think that many universities could claim the same, but a commitment to serve is a strong filter on who joins our community and how they make decisions about the trajectories of their lives and their careers. This is truly a transcendent characteristic of Virginia Tech and its people. It impacts our research portfolio, the connection between us and our alumni, and our ability to attract talented students, faculty and staff.

 Of course, Virginia Tech must continue to strive to be better still. Together, I ask that we make commitments to inclusive excellence; to enhancing the value of a Virginia Tech education; to continuing the drive to establish the university among the nation's leading research universities; to competing successfully nationally and globally in attracting and retaining talent; to translating our discoveries into impactful products, services and policies; to leveraging Virginia Tech's presence throughout the state, from the main campus in Blacksburg, to a growing footprint in the National Capital Region, to Extension offices and facilities in every county in the Commonwealth, to our facilities and programs overseas.

 So while it is clear that there is much work to be done and many challenges ahead, I am convinced that there is absolutely no better platform than Virginia Tech from which to make a permanent and transformative impact on humanity. LET'S GO invent the future - HOKIES!

Tim Sands

Twitter: @VTSandsman

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