Last May, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands launched “Envisioning Virginia Tech — Beyond Boundaries,” a year-long effort to rethink the university of tomorrow.

Sands challenged a faculty-led committee to envision Virginia Tech, without constraints, a generation into the future. He asked them to explore how Virginia Tech will be at the forefront of rapid world change, and advance as a leading global land-grant university.

More than 90 committee members were co-chaired by Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development and associate dean of the Graduate School, Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Provost Thanassis Rikakis. Committees included students, staff, faculty, and representatives from the Board of Visitors and Alumni Board as well as the Blacksburg town manager and Roanoke city manager. Participants spent the past academic year engaging the university community and sharing activities and progress on the Beyond Boundaries website.

As the year comes to a close, the committee members have completed this phase of the initiative and now share the results of their visioning work with the president and university community.

“I deeply appreciate the committee’s work, and the leadership of Drs. Blieszner, Grant and Rikakis,” said Sands. “Being engaged in this effort as it evolved over the past year was a remarkable opportunity for me. The quality, depth, and multidisciplinary scope of the work is impressive. The possible futures it forecasts for the university are exciting.

“I want to thank every individual who invested their time and ideas,” added Sands. “You have exceeded my high expectations and created a valuable resource to help us understand the way forward.”

Sands will review the committee members' visioning work this summer and share more information with the university community about next steps during the 2016-2017 academic year. He emphasized that the Beyond Boundaries work will not be placed on a shelf, but will continue to evolve as the university advances.

“This vision is not a blueprint or a strategic plan, it is a method of engaging with a rapidly changing world,” Sands said. “Some concepts are already embedded in emerging campus initiatives and others will require experimentation, champions, and resources. This work will benefit the university community for years to come.”

Extensions of the Beyond Boundaries initiative currently under consideration include a speakers’ series involving leading thinkers from around the world to discuss the opportunities and threats emerging in the higher education landscape, the development of Destination Areas as cross-cutting themes that will attract global talent and partners, and an “incubator” that would entertain proposals from the Virginia Tech community to advance Beyond Boundaries concepts.

The Beyond Boundaries website will continue to be the repository for archives, documents, reports, updates, and new events relating to the initiative. 

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