Alignment of university operations enhances services and support
The Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, known as university operations, coordinates the major administrative functions that support the university’s academic, research, and service missions. Within university operations, seven divisions – Human Resources; Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities; Information Technology; Finance; Policy and Governance; Equity and Accessibility; and Enterprise Administrative and Business Services – manage essential services that are key to students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
“While teaching and research are core to Virginia Tech’s mission, our auxiliary and business services are an important part of the day-to-day experience for students, faculty, and staff in Blacksburg, Roanoke, and the greater Washington, D.C., metro area,” said Amy Sebring, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Virginia Tech.
In her first 120 days, Sebring has been intentional about learning the culture at Virginia Tech and engaging with her teams and stakeholders to better understand how to support their work. She is crafting a vision for university operations and how its many service units can continue to best support the university.
In the coming weeks, these key changes will take place in university operations.
Audit, Risk, and Compliance
Sharon Kurek, currently executive director of audit, risk, and compliance at Virginia Tech, has been promoted to vice president for audit, risk, and compliance and chief risk officer and will join university operations, effective March 25. Kurek will continue reporting to President Tim Sands in that capacity while reporting to Sebring for day-to-day administrative oversight. She will continue to serve as the lead staff member to the Compliance, Audit, and Risk Committee of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
“Sharon is a collaborative leader with a commitment to excellence and accountability,” Sands said. “Her experience and vision have been instrumental in navigating risk management and compliance in an increasingly complex higher education environment, and her new role will further support our growth and success.”
In this new role, Kurek is responsible for working with leadership to deploy a connected risk model, including setting the strategic risk management vision for the university. Aligning the Office of Audit, Risk, and Compliance with Sebring’s office allows Virginia Tech to coordinate university operations more effectively.
“I am thrilled to have Sharon and the Office of Audit, Risk, and Compliance join the university operations team,” said Sebring. “Although the audit function will continue to have a fair amount of separation and autonomy from our day-to-day operations, as they should, being able to think more strategically about enterprise risk, risk assessments, and risk mitigation is critical in an organization as complex as Virginia Tech. Sharon is a thought leader in advancing Virginia Tech’s audit, risk, and compliance functions, and I look forward to having her voice as part of my leadership team.”
With the addition of audit, risk, and compliance, Virginia Tech will have opportunities to coordinate compliance efforts across the university and to ensure that its policies and practices are supporting the university’s needs.
“I am honored to serve Virginia Tech in this new role and look forward to enhancing the risk perspective with leadership as the university strives to achieve its ambitious goals,” said Kurek. “I am excited to realize my vision of a connected risk management framework that leverages our successful internal audit program and deploys a more integrated institutional compliance program.”
Reconfiguring some operations will build on strategic strengths and leverage opportunities for more efficiencies and growth. Sebring has announced two newly structured divisions within university operations.
Auxiliary and Business Services
Lynsay Belshe, in her new role as vice president of auxiliary and business services, will lead the Division of Auxiliary and Business Services. This new division will include Mail Services, Air Transportation Services, Fleet Services, Sustainable Transportation, and Parking Services, which Belshe oversees in her current role as vice president of enterprise administrative and business services, as well as the Hokie Passport program and working with third-party providers that manage operations of The Inn at Virginia Tech.
“Lynsay’s leadership is critical to creating a structure where her teams can focus on the big picture and be cohesive in their approach. I have asked her to think more holistically about how we provide key services to students, faculty, staff, and visitors,” said Sebring. “In addition to her current responsibilities in auxiliary services, Lynsay will focus initially on integrating Hokie Passport into her operations and overseeing major university contracts, including those that support the operation of The Inn at Virginia Tech. Over time, I anticipate the Division of Auxiliary and Business Services will have an opportunity to work across the university to enhance operations more broadly.”
Auxiliary services are not supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In fact, the state requires public institutions of higher education to operate auxiliary services, such as parking, Hokie Passport, and The Inn at Virginia Tech, as fully self-supporting services. As a result, they receive no funding from the state and are supported primarily by user fees.
“With my new role, we have an opportunity to think strategically about how to provide the best services at competitive prices and with high value to our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. We also have an opportunity to expand our use of technology, both to improve the customer experience and streamline our operations,” said Belshe.
Virginia Tech’s public safety units – Emergency Management, the Virginia Tech Police Department, the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, and Environmental Health and Safety – have critical roles in supporting the well-being of our community. They are essential in planning for and responding to emergency events, but also in creating a culture of preparedness where employees and students are safe in their work and living environments.
Mike Mulhare, currently assistant vice president for emergency management, will step into the role of interim associate vice president for public safety. The new Public Safety division will be strategically aligned to enhance the unit’s efficiencies and capacity to serve the university.
“While I was at William & Mary, I had the opportunity to work with Mike in his role as COVID director. He is well-respected throughout the state and nationally, and I look forward to his leadership as we build on Virginia’s Tech successes in these areas,” said Sebring. “Mike will work with me and his teams to develop the long-term vision for the public safety units."
Sebring is elevating this public safety role so that it is part of her senior leadership team and integrated into all operational efforts. She will launch a search to fill this role in early 2024.
“I arrived 15 years ago to establish the university’s first emergency management program and look forward to furthering the resiliency and preparedness of Virginia Tech in this new role,” said Mulhare.
Both Belshe and Mulhare will transition to their new roles effective April 25.
Addition to administrative team
For increased flexibility, opportunities to engage across campus and beyond, and management of the day-to-day administrative functions, Sebring also will add a chief of staff to her team. Brennan Shepard, currently director of financial planning in the Office of Budget and Financial Planning, will serve as interim chief of staff until the position is filled. Sebring will launch a search for this role in the fall.
“I am inspired by the work we do at this university and the people who get up every morning thinking about how to make this an exceptional place for all of us to work and learn,” said Sebring. “The impact of university operations on the Virginia Tech experience is enhanced by our ability to stay informed and responsive to the needs and interests of those we serve and support. For that reason, my goal is to be present and engaged with the university’s stakeholders as much as possible.”
Sebring also announced that Belshe will lead a national search this spring for the new vice president for information technology and chief information officer. She plans to fill this position by the fall.