Key university initiatives, programs discussed at fall Board of Visitors meeting
During its quarterly meeting held in Blacksburg on Monday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors received numerous reports and presentations on key university priorities.
Among those presentations, Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for innovation and partnerships, provided an overview of the emergence and growth of Link, License, Launch, as well as several updates on the Innovation Campus. Apex Center for Entrepreneurs Director Sean Collins and three students discussed the growth and impact of the center, and new Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Dean Lee Learman shared his vision for the school.
Over the next several days, in-depth reporting on several of these presentations will be published in Virginia Tech News.
In other business, board members received a design review on the Dietrick Hall Enclosure and Spirit Plaza project. The $8.3 million non-general fund project will create a vibrant hub of campus activity by augmenting existing outdoor spaces and dining venues at this location. The new Spirit Plaza design will allow for a variety of both large and small-scale outdoor activities, such as game day celebrations, food truck rodeos, and outdoor concerts. The project also encloses approximately 5,000 square feet of existing open-air space to add 200 new dining seats.
In addition, the board approved a resolution authorizing the university to complete the Athletics Weight Room Renovation and Expansion project, which has an expected construction value of $3.31 million plus associated soft costs, including existing design expenditures. The 22,520-gross-square-foot project, which will involve both building renovation and expansion, will be financed through private philanthropy.
The board approved a resolution to discontinue the bachelor of science degree in engineering science and mechanics in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics. Consistent with national trends, the degree program has seen a significant decline in student enrollment. Current engineering science and mechanics undergraduate students will have the opportunity to complete their degree by fall of 2023. The undergraduate minor and graduate program in engineering science and mechanics will both remain in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics.
On Sunday, Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke provided board members with an update on continuous strategic planning and presented the Annual Milestones Report for The Virginia Tech Difference: Advancing Beyond Boundaries (the University Strategic Plan). The presentation included discussion of the university’s progress toward achieving strategic priority milestones.
Also on Sunday, Juan Espinoza, director of undergraduate admissions, and Frank Shushok, interim vice president for student affairs, provided board members with an update on university enrollment and the integration of Virginia Tech’s largest first-year class. Though the university’s incoming class was 1,004 students above the goal of 6,600 first-year undergraduates, Virginia Tech’s overall undergraduate enrollment was 433 above the goal of 28,867 students. That variance, Espinoza noted, was primarily due to an increase in the number of graduates this past year and the growing Virginia Tech trend to graduate students in less time.
Espinoza also noted the university’s international student enrollment grew considerably, in sharp contrast to national trends, and the university’s first-year retention rate exceeded 90 percent, well above the national average.
Several other presentations and reports were presented during the two-day meeting.
College of Agriculture and Life Science Dean Alan Grant and Chris Kiwus, associate vice president and chief facilities officer, provided an update on facilities improvement projects at Agricultural and Research Extension Centers across the state and locations in or near Blacksburg. In addition, Associate Vice President for Campus Safety Kevin Foust presented the Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act Report and Vice President for Information Technology and CIO Scott Midkiff shared an overview if IT security at the university.
In his annual report on research to the Finance and Resource Management Committee, Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation Don Taylor noted Virginia Tech’s growth in research sponsored by industry and the federal government and that the federal research portfolio was relatively balanced across funding agencies.
The board recognized 10 faculty members with new appointments to endowed professorships or fellowships and honored 18 others with emerita/emeritus status. Stories on each of these individuals will be published in Virginia Tech News in the coming weeks.
The next full meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be March 29 – 30, 2020, in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors is found online.