To the Virginia Tech community,

Welcome to the fall semester! I hope you had an enjoyable summer and are ready for a new and exciting academic year. I especially want to welcome our new faculty and staff, and our diverse and talented entering class representing 47 states and 69 countries.

This semester also marks the last few months of our Sesquicentennial celebration. I want to thank everyone who played a role in honoring our past and celebrating our present. We’ve enjoyed the celebrations (including the special sesquicentennial ice cream), the highlights of each colleges’ history, and the reflection and dialogue about the university’s influence and impact on the land, peoples, and communities of Virginia. It all provides important context as we chart a course toward a university that is expanding beyond traditional boundaries to engage more Virginians, as our impact on the commonwealth and around the world continues to grow. Case in point, a conversation that began at our 1872 Forward event in March led to the creation of the Virginia Tech Tribal Match Scholarship for the commonwealth’s Native American students.

Conversations are powerful, and I’m proud to see Hokies taking the lead in having important conversations across our differences. This includes our Civic Engagement Program, Hokies Vote Caucus, Deliberative Dialogues Forum, and this fall we will begin a Citizen's Democracy Leadership Program. Virginia Tech is preparing tomorrow’s citizens and leaders. We should be proud that 90 percent of our eligible students are registered to vote and 73 percent voted in 2020 election, among the highest percentage in the commonwealth. Participate and be engaged! Opportunities include student government, clubs, undergraduate research, internships, and much more. Learn more about how you can be involved at VT Engage.

As we continue our in-person instruction and activities, the reality of the pandemic is still with us.  Fortunately, we now have the tools and experience to continue our learning, discovery, and engagement mission while also protecting the health and safety of our communities. Please take a moment to review our updated guidelines for managing COVID-19. We will continue to provide public health information and relevant resources for our community throughout the year.

At Virginia Tech, we aspire to provide the best living, learning, and working experience possible for every member of our community. I encourage everyone, especially our new Hokies, to visit InclusiveVT and support our commitment to community, diversity, and excellence. And remember, whether it’s on campus, in our communities, or during football games and other athletic activities, Hokies are known for their welcoming spirit, respect, civility, and kindness in keeping with our Principles of Community and our motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Our commitment to enhance our sexual violence education and prevention programs in our community remains a priority. The Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group, which I launched last year, will continue the work started last year and expand the focus from residential students to off-campus students, including our graduate and professional students. I encourage our community to participate in the education and prevention programs and follow updates through a new website,

No doubt you’ve noticed the unusual level of construction activity as our Blacksburg campus continues to evolve. The northwest entrance to our campus is undergoing a major transformation with the construction of the Data and Decision Sciences Building, the Undergraduate Science Laboratory Building, Hitt Hall and a new dining facility, and the Multi-Modal Transit Facility. On the Upper Quad, it’s exciting to see the Corps Leadership and Military Science Building and a new residence hall taking shape. And of course, construction continues on the Innovation Campus in Alexandria, with completion scheduled for spring 2024.

Along with our growth, we will continue making progress on access and affordability for our students and their families. This year the Board of Visitors recognized the financial challenges faced by Virginians and effectively froze tuition for in-state undergraduate students. The university is also supporting lower- and middle-income families by allocating an additional $5 million toward undergraduate financial aid programs, raising the total to more than $39 million in 2022-23. Over the past four years the consumer price index has increased more than 20 percent while in-state tuition rates at Virginia Tech have increased only 6 percent.

And we’re proud that this year, the university was in the top 25 of Money Magazine’s “Best College for Your Money” rankings. The ranking is directly tied to the outcomes for Virginia Tech graduates who land great jobs; our university’s efforts to increase affordability, especially for underrepresented and underserved students and their families; and the overall quality of the educational experience here.

And last but not least, I can’t wait to join you in Lane Stadium as we kick off football season by jumping to Enter Sandman and welcoming coach Brent Pry and our team onto Worsham Field. It’s going to be an exciting year for everyone.

Let’s go, Hokies!

Tim Sands,

Share this story