Thanassis Rikakis, vice provost for design, arts and technology at Carnegie Mellon University, will become Virginia Tech’s executive vice president and provost, effective Aug. 16.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Rikakis to the Virginia Tech community,” said President Timothy D. Sands. “His interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching and research, and his passion to couple emerging technologies with the performing arts and humanities resonated deeply with those whom he met throughout the interview process. His accomplished record as an innovator, scholar, researcher, and administrator will be a tremendous asset to us as we work to strengthen our role as a global leader in higher education.”

Rikakis will also become a tenured professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering and hold a joint appointment as a music professor in the School of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“President Sands’ vision to prepare highly-engaged students for lives and careers of service in our interconnected world will set Virginia Tech apart from other major research universities, and the opportunity to be a part of that vision is energizing,” said Rikakis. “Virginia Tech’s foundation of interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate education, experiential learning, and partnerships among faculty, community and industry around broad research themes, sets the stage for meaningful future change.”

Rikakis arrived at Carnegie Mellon in 2012, and coordinated the development of the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe), which engages more than 70 faculty from 15 different university departments and units. Those collaborations resulted in eight new university-wide undergraduate concentrations on creative industry themes served by 35 new interdisciplinary, collaborative studio courses and an expansive making facility housed in the university's central library. 

IDeATe also launched the Emerging Media Master’s program, a collaborative degree offered through the School of Computer Science, the College of Fine Arts, and the College of Engineering that features semester- or year-long residency opportunities in New York and Silicon Valley.

In addition, the Carnegie Mellon University Integrative Media Program (IMP) at Steiner Studios in New York City was launched. The IMP is part of the NYC Applied Science Initiative. Rikakis also supervised the CMU Entertainment Technology Center (ETC).

Rikakis is currently a full professor in the School of Design and the School of Music and holds a courtesy appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department.

His research and creative work focus on interactive neurorehabilitation, experiential media, interdisciplinary education, and computer music. His research outcomes range from peer reviewed publications, to novel software and hardware, original multimedia works and music compositions. 

A member of the Arizona State University faculty from 2001 to 2012, Rikakis was named the founding director of the university’s School of Arts, Media, and Engineering in 2003.

In that capacity, he led the development of the school’s vision, research, and education models; the creation of joint graduate and undergraduate curricula with 12 units at the university; and the establishment of a transdisciplinary bachelor of arts degree program in Digital Culture and a doctoral degree program in Media Arts and Sciences.

During the nearly 10 years he served as founding director, Rikakis hired 12 interdisciplinary faculty, and 10 administrative and technical staff , and the school had enrolled 300 undergraduate and 50 graduate students.

He also held a faculty appointment at Columbia University, from 1995 to 2001, where he served as associate director of the Computer Music Center.

Rikakis received his doctor of musical arts degree in music composition and a master of arts degree in music composition from Columbia University. He received his bachelor of arts degree in music composition from Ithaca College.

He is married to Aisling Kelliher, who will also join the Virginia Tech faculty as a tenured associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering with joint appointments in the School of Visual Arts and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology

Kelliher creates and studies interactive media systems for enhancing reflection, learning and communication. Her work is grounded within the fields of human-computer-interaction, multimedia, and interaction design.  She received a Ph.D. in media, arts and sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. 

The couple has one child.

In February, Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee announced his plan to step down this year. With the successful conclusion of the provost search, he has decided to announce his intention to retire on Oct. 1. "I look forward to working closely with Thanassis during the transition period. The university can look forward to a very bright future" said McNamee.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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