The following is an open letter to the university community from Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands:

Dear colleagues,
As the university looks toward strengthening resources to support and enrich all of the programs that deserve critical support, we will depend more than ever on the university’s “advancement” program. 

Cultivation of support through the engagement of alumni and other friends in activities will be essential. Effectively communicating the needs of the university and its individual programs to many constituencies is equally compelling. Securing financial support from alumni and friends will strengthen and expand programs, grow our endowment, and provide a stronger financial foundation for our future.

With a view toward strengthening our advancement program, I am asking Tom Tillar, who currently serves as vice president for alumni relations, to assume the role of interim senior vice president for advancement effective Feb. 2. 

In this capacity, Tom will begin to implement a traditional advancement model comprised of all University Relations, University Development, and Alumni Relations staffs with specific strategies that will ultimately move us closer to our next major campaign effort. While there is no specific timetable or dollar goal for a future campaign, it is critical that an advancement team of professionals move swiftly toward taking the necessary steps to lay groundwork for a campaign.

As many of you may know, Tom has been with the university his entire professional career, which began in 1971. He completed his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree from programs that are now a part of the College of Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. In addition to alumni relations, his early career with the university included two years in development as director of corporate and foundation support, and 11 years as director of annual giving. 

He was named director of alumni relations in 1991 and vice president in 1996. He also has overseen a number of publications, including a magazine for the alumni association, and currently edits a section within the Virginia Tech Magazine.

Tom will continue to oversee the programs in Alumni Relations and also work closely with the leadership of both University Development and University Relations to create and oversee an advancement organization. He will remain in this interim role until a permanent vice president for advancement is named and begins to serve as the vice president responsible for all fund raising, alumni relations, and communications.

I am grateful to all staff who serve in the three areas that will consolidate to form this new advancement staffing model. Further, I urge all associated with the university, who may be called upon, to provide assistance to Tom and his colleagues in their efforts to create a new advancement organization.


Tim Sands

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