During its two-day meeting in Blacksburg held Sunday and today, members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors discussed several topics, including the significant growth of Virginia Tech’s research enterprise.

During the Finance and Resource Management Committee meeting, it was reported that Virginia Tech’s research awards and expenditures have grown by more than 10 percent. Based on fiscal year 2023 data estimates, federal, state, local, and private research awards grew a combined 17 percent, while research expenditures rose to more than $650 million — a 13 percent increase over last year's totals. Over a two-year period, awards have seen a 31 percent increase and expenditures, a 28 percent increase. Extramural research expenditures account for $415 million of the total number, surpassing the university’s goal in the strategic plan two years early.

At Sunday’s information session, Juan Espinoza, associate vice president for enrollment management and director of undergraduate admissions, provided an overview on admissions trends and the university’s undergraduate enrollment. He noted that approximately half of all applicants use the standardized test optional option, and that Virginia Tech continues to make progress on the recruitment and enrollment of traditionally underserved and underrepresented students. The target for next fall’s freshman class will be about 300 students fewer than this year’s class, he said, because of higher student retention rates. For the next academic year, Virginia Tech has set a total enrollment goal of 30,679 undergraduate students, just slightly higher than the 30,504 undergraduate students currently enrolled.

Menah Pratt, vice president for strategic affairs and diversity, provided board members an update on the university’s strategic plan, noting that at the highest level, the university is making measured progress on Virginia Tech’s four strategic priorities.

Also on Sunday, Kirk Cox, president of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC), spoke to board members on the integral role higher education plays in talent development in Virginia. As a partner in the Virginia Talent and Opportunity Partnership with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the VBHEC is working to develop and keep talent in Virginia, Cox said, and internships and work-based learning opportunities afforded at colleges and universities already provide great value to both students and Virginia businesses. He added additional state support will broaden the positive impact that work-based learning and internships provide and Virginia’s best economic development opportunity for the future will be to position itself as America’s top state for talent and hands-on learning.

During the two-day meeting, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Amy Sebring provided several updates on university operations. Noting the search for the university’s next vice president for information technology and chief information officer is entering its final stages, Sebring acknowledged Virginia Cyber Range Director David Raymond for his interim leadership of the Division of Information Technology during the search.

Sebring also reported the university has begun its work to evaluate its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. Like many institutions of higher education, Virginia Tech is in the process of modernizing its ERP and planning for the future state of its finance, human resources, and student account management tools. This process is expected to incur significant unavoidable costs over the next several years while enhancing the security and functionality of many university business management processes. She also discussed the infrastructure needed for future university growth, including an expanded footprint in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area, and that it is essential that Virginia Tech has the people, facilities, technology, and operational processes in place to support its expanding reach and growth in sponsored research.

Sebring thanked Chris Kiwus, departing vice president for campus planning, infrastructure, and facilities, after a decade of service, and welcomed Bob Broyden, associate vice president for campus planning and capital financing, who will serve as interim vice president for campus planning, infrastructure, and facilities while a national search is undertaken.

Chief of Police Mac Babb presented the most recent Clery Report to the board, noting it is a vital tool that empowers both current and prospective members of the Virginia Tech community to make informed decisions about their safety.

Michael Mulhare, interim associate vice president of public safety, spoke on the university’s Crisis and Emergency Management Plan, explaining the comprehensive review process conducted every four years to ensure its relevance. He highlighted key revisions made to the plan, including updates to personnel, department names, and contact information, as well as the incorporation of lessons learned from the university's response to the COVID-19. Mulhare also mentioned community outreach initiatives, such as the Be Hokie Ready campaign, individual preparedness education for employees and students, and various training programs including Stop the Bleed, Weather Spotter, Incident Command, and the Hokie Ready app, all of which indicate the university's commitment to enhance safety and preparedness measures for the university community.

Rhonda Arsenault, senior associate vice president for advancement, gave board members an update on current advancement activities. She noted the current fundraising campaign has raised $1.485 billion toward the updated goal of $1.872 billion, well ahead of the pace needed to achieve the goal of the Boundless Impact Campaign. Of that total amount raised to date, $420.9 million — or 28 percent — have been added to the university’s endowment, a critical, strategic priority of both the campaign and the university. Academic programs and student scholarships are the top two areas supported by funds raised by the current fundraising campaign

On Monday, board members toured the recently completed Corps Leadership and Military Science Building and Upper Quad Residence Hall.

Because a quorum of membership was not achieved, the board's Academic Research and Student Affairs Committee did meet this cycle. The next full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be held April 8-9, 2024, in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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