beyond boundaries update 2019, It's a great time to be a Hokie! - President Tim Sands

To the Virginia Tech community

Welcome back to campus! I hope you enjoyed winter break and are looking forward to an exciting new year. We have a record number of new spring semester undergraduate students this year, and I want to offer a special welcome to everyone who is joining us for the first time. This is a warm, welcoming community with resources to help you and many opportunities to get involved.

The year is already off to a great start. Earlier this month, I was very pleased to announce that Cyril Clarke is our new provost. His deep experience in land-grant university administration, exemplary academic reputation, innovative vision, and commitment to the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) will serve Virginia Tech well. We have a strong, experienced executive team in place that is ready to leverage our growing momentum and meet the challenges 2019 will bring. It's a great year to be a Hokie.

In last year's January message, I outlined our strategy to advance Virginia Tech's modern land-grant mission. As we implement the Beyond Boundaries vision, I'd like to revisit some of those objectives and show you how we're doing. There is much work to do, but we have already made noteworthy progress that will support our future goals.

President Tim Sands

Become a top 100 global university to attract global talent and partners

Long-term investments to advance VT's position. University-record 14 faculty members received NSF's CAREER award. Agreements with Boeing and


back to top

Virginia Tech is currently in the No. 251-300 range in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Increasing our global ranking drives improvement in those areas that are key to our success, such as research, recruiting talent, and developing partnerships. We are making the long-term investments needed to advance our position without sacrificing what makes Virginia Tech unique. Last year, 14 faculty members, a university record, received the National Science Foundation's CAREER award, the NSF's most prestigious recognition of early-career faculty. In its first year, LINK, the Center for Advancing Industry Partnerships, secured agreements with aerospace leader Boeing and digital currency pioneer Our technology commercialization team continues supporting the transition of our discoveries into real-world solutions that drive societal and economic impact. We recently licensed our fog harp water harvesting technology, developed by Jonathan Boreyko and Brook Kennedy, to Greenshift Corp., a collaboration that will bring resources into the university while helping communities around the world where water is a scarce and critical resource.

Last fall, researchers across the university could start using VT-FAST, short for Faculty Activity Support Team, a new resource for faculty that supports proposal and grant development. This collaborative effort will help faculty with all aspects of grant and proposal development. And late last year, we created LAUNCH, our Center for New Ventures, to help turn Virginia Tech inventions into applied innovations.

In addition, total scholarly publications have increased to 4,700, compared to 1,800 in 1999. Research expenditures total more than $523 million — and extramural funding totaled $272 million, a 6 percent increase from the previous year.


Continued focus on doubling the incoming percentage of underrepresented minority undergraduates. New hires for tenured & tenure-track positions up from 5% in 2016 to 19% in 2018.


back to top

InclusiveVT is our institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence. We continue to focus on our goal to double the underrepresented minority percentage of the entering undergraduate class to 25 percent, and to increase the underserved and underrepresented share (including first-generation and Pell-eligible) to 40 percent by 2022. The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program is currently assisting 231 students. Our last entering class was the most diverse in our history. In 2018, underrepresented minority faculty members comprised 19 percent of our new hires for tenured and tenure-track positions. That compares to 15 percent in 2017, and 5 percent in 2016. There is more work to do, but we are moving in the right direction.


Decreased total student debt for the most recent graduating class of in-state students. Reversing the student debt growth curve ensures that graduates have more options in the future.


back to top

The combination of tuition rate moderation, increased financial aid, and shorter time-to-degree resulted in a decrease in total student debt for the most recent graduating class of in-state students relative to the prior class. Reversing the student debt growth curve is essential to ensuring that our graduates have more options as they move on to careers or pursue advanced degrees.

VT-shaped learning

Experiential learning offers a competitive advantage. Opportunities include Hokies on the Hill, study abroad, undergraduate research, mentoring, and internships.


back to top

At Virginia Tech, experiential learning gives our students a competitive advantage, combining disciplinary depth with opportunities to build leadership, teamwork, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other key skills. We are constantly seeking to expand experiential learning opportunities, such as Hokies on the Hill, study abroad, undergraduate research, mentoring, and internships. We're excited about the recent establishment of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program and new industry partnerships with companies, such as Mahindra, Boeing, and, that bring real-world experiences to our campus.

Achieving scale through moderate growth

Aim for an undergraduate enrollment of about 30,000. Largest winter session enrollment yet in 2019. A record number of new undergraduate students for the spring semester.


back to top

The experiences of our highly ranked peer institutions strongly support the premise that land-grant research universities see advantages of scale at undergraduate enrollment of about 30,000. Our progress in developing innovative, relevant degree programs and maintaining a dynamic and supportive campus atmosphere is reflected in the increasing number of people who want to be Hokies. The 2019 winter session had the largest enrollment yet, followed by a record number of new undergraduate students for the spring semester. With carefully managed growth in Blacksburg, including new housing, dining, academic space, and transportation options, along with expansion opportunities in Roanoke and Northern Virginia, we are on track to reach 30,000 undergraduates by 2023.

Expanding Health Sciences & Technology

A transformational gift from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood & Cynthia Fralin to the newly named Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. A new 139,000-square-foot facility opens in spring 2020.


back to top

Our objectives for growth beyond our Blacksburg campus have advanced in dramatic fashion. A transformational gift from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin to the newly named Fralin Biomedical Research Institute will rapidly advance the development of our Virginia Tech Carilion Academic Health Center in Roanoke. Academic Health Centers combine education, research, population health, and patient care to improve health care for our communities and our country. The institute is recruiting and retaining the world's best biomedical researchers who win National Institutes of Health grants at a rate that is far above the national average. A new 139,000-square-foot facility will open in the spring of 2020, creating new opportunities to explore the world's most complex problems.

Growing Virginia Tech*s Northern Virginia presence

The rapid development of a 1-million-square-foot Innovation Campus in Alexandria, adjacent to the planned Amazon headquarters. Virginia Tech's leadership of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.


back to top

The rapid development of our 1-million-square-foot Innovation Campus in Alexandria, which will enroll its first students this year, will bring new opportunities to attract talent and support economic development in Virginia – including the planned Amazon headquarters in Arlington. Likewise, Virginia Tech's leadership of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and expansion of research and graduate programs in the Northern Virginia region will open avenues to establish new partnerships and pursue new philanthropic opportunities that will benefit the entire university.

Blacksburg campus development

A new Master Plan for the Blacksburg campus. Support for the development of communities of discovery, innovation hubs, and dynamic spaces that will promote transdisciplinary collaboration and creativity.


back to top

The Board of Visitors approved a new Master Plan for the Blacksburg campus last November. It envisions the evolution of our campus over the next 30 years to support the Beyond Boundaries vision. The plan proposes projects and designs that will support the development of communities of discovery, innovation hubs, and dynamic spaces that will promote transdisciplinary collaboration and creativity. Our growth and development across Virginia will establish a rural/urban education ecosystem, in which our communities benefit each other and the commonwealth as a whole.


Alumni giving rate has grown to 13 percent, with a goal of 22 percent by 2022. Aim to grow endowment from $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion by 2022.


back to top

As we approach Virginia Tech's sesquicentennial celebration, the university's Advancement division is on track to meet goals for fundraising and engagement. The engagement goal is the key to transforming the strong affinity our alumni and friends have for the university into tangible support for our future vision. Our alumni giving rate has grown to 13 percent, with a goal of 22 percent by 2022. We also aim to grow our endowment to $1.6 billion by 2022. The endowment is currently at $1.1 billion, having grown 44 percent over the past four years.

Several successful new initiatives are helping us achieve these goals, including the annual summer reunion; which welcomed about 300 Hokies to campus in its first year; the new senior class gift program, which had 600 students participate; and our first annual Giving Day, which brought in more than 5,000 gifts and raised more than $1.6 million. Mark your calendar for Giving Day 2019, which will occur March 19-20. Our Advancement team has demonstrated outstanding commitment to our mission, continually exceeding targets and bringing in gifts, such as those for the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program, that support transformational growth. It is inspiring to see our vision for Virginia Tech's future validated by so much enthusiasm and generosity from our supporters.

Strategic planning

Refine the university's mission based on the Beyond Boundaries vision for Virginia Tech. Finalize the strategic framework by the Strategic Planning Leadership Team.


back to top

The strategic planning committees are currently working with the Office for Strategic Affairs to refine the university's mission based on the Beyond Boundaries vision for Virginia Tech a generation into the future. The Strategic Planning Leadership Team will finalize the strategic framework and work with the colleges, institutes, and units across the university to assist with development of their strategic plans. An updated set of university-level milestones and metrics, informed by the aspirations and initiatives discussed above, will help chart our progress and inform our priorities and decisions going forward.

In closing

Thank you for everything you've done to create a foundation for this success. Our strategies, preparation, and your hard work are bringing real-time results for the university and the commonwealth. We face the same imperative that energized our predecessors throughout the university's history – the imperative to grow and evolve. Virginia Tech is in an optimal position, with momentum, energy, and opportunity on our side.

With our Board of Visitors' support, a strong leadership team in place, and a commitment to service and the spirit of Ut Prosim, we will continue to seek excellence with a strategic focus on our priorities. Working together in true Virginia Tech fashion, we will succeed. We have a great year and an exciting future ahead.

Tim Sands

Related content

Loading player for,+inspiring+gift/1_t3abre1o...
Loading player for
Loading player for
Loading player for