Rosemary Blieszner
Rosemary Blieszner

A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY is how some people describe Virginia Tech’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Indeed, we will use the 18 months of celebrating to recognize and honor our history, showcase our accomplishments, and preview exciting new directions for our learning, discovery, and engagement missions.

The beginning of the sesquicentennial coincides with the start of my 41st year at Virginia Tech. I have continued my career at this institution because of the attitudes, values, and strategies that define and guide Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission. It has been my pleasure to work with a series of university leaders who, in addition to bringing unique skills and perspectives to their positions, consistently identified the most-needed programmatic directions at the time of their tenure.

For example, Charles W. Steger ’69, Virginia Tech’s president from 2000 to 2014, prioritized elevating the university’s research profile. The strategic plan we developed early in his tenure led to decisions and investments that enabled the university to increase research expenditures significantly. At the same time, we embraced instructional innovations and technologies and extended our reach in Virginia and beyond. Moving this goal forward, our current research initiatives on artificial intelligence, health, security, and quantum technologies, in partnership with industry and government sectors, will assure our continued success as a research powerhouse.

Our current president, Tim Sands, arrived with a vision to secure Virginia Tech’s reputation as a global land-grant university. Aptly named Beyond Boundaries, the universitywide initiative identified aspirations for Virginia Tech’s future generations and established key domains for innovation and investment. These include preparing students for the future workplace, planning the campus of the future, and developing new funding models for achieving priorities. Ongoing efforts to ensure experiential learning opportunities for all students, expand the locations where we teach and engage in scholarship, establish collaborative transdisciplinary research programs, and improve our administrative structures and processes directly serve the Beyond Boundaries vision. The implementation of our vision relies on a shared understanding that achieving our strategic goals is possible only in an environment inclusive of thought from a diverse community of researchers and scholars, teachers and learners.

Rosemary Blieszner connects with students at CAUS Fest,
JOIN THE CLUB: Rosemary Blieszner connects with students at CAUS Fest, a recruitment event for student clubs and organizations in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Now, the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee is guiding the university through celebratory activities that engage the Hokie Nation and our many partners. President Sands charged us to highlight the impact of Virginia Tech’s achievements in teaching and learning, discovery and creative scholarship, and outreach and engagement. Sesquicentennial events and activities will continue through 2022. Together we will explore Virginia Tech’s past, present, and future through lenses of three cross-cutting themes: solve problems, expand knowledge, and create and engage communities.

The university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), is the foundation of our efforts and represents our highest aspirations. We have planned two sesquicentennial events designed to explore our motto. In April 2022, we will host a conversation among our three Ut Prosim Scholars, professors Marc Edwards, Carla Finkielstein, and Linsey Marr. In November 2022, we will engage the university community in an exploration of the motto’s meaning and expression by those who embody its ethos.

We have launched a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to highlight Virginia Tech’s accomplishments and propel the university in innovative directions beyond boundaries. None of us will participate in the celebration of our next 150 years in 2172. But, based on the broad foundation established in the first 150 years, we can be confident that our great university will continue to innovate and thrive through its bicentennial (200th), sestercentennial (250th), and tercentennial (300th) anniversaries!

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