Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated April 3, 2020

Academic Program Site Alignment

Academic program site alignment is a process intended to create thematic coherence and distinctiveness at each of our primary sites (Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church) in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area. When realized, it will enhance transdisciplinary connections and partnerships between our own programs and external entities in the region. It is expected that some programs will relocate as a result of this alignment. A process for making these determinations is underway. 

The current thematic descriptions for each location included in the site alignment are described below.

Innovation Campus (Alexandria)
Digital technology increasingly influences and enables virtually every aspect of our lives—how we work, play, communicate, learn, relax, move, relate, protect, defend, explore, manage, and understand. These impacts are not only felt by individuals but also by groups small and large, as they flourish or struggle in communities, nations, and ecosystems. The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will deliver graduate programs, cutting-edge research, and undergraduate experiences to meet the significant and rapidly expanding need for digital tech talent, research, and innovation.  

Driven by our heritage as a land-grant university and elevated by our location in the nation’s center of policy and governance, Virginia Tech experts and partners will assemble around big ideas and broad themes to explore the increasingly blurred boundaries between humans, computers, and systems. Technical domains will sit at the human-computing frontier and include artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, data science and analytics, internet of things, cyber-human systems, computing systems and networks at scale, distributed and cloud systems, high-performance computing, and human-computer interaction. Adjacent programs will include those at the intersection of technology and policy, regulation and ethics.

Authentically engaged with partners in local, national, and global communities, faculty and students will collaborate on diverse teams, focused on real problems and real solutions both inside and outside the classroom. It is these scholars, with intellects and practical skills honed in this living laboratory, who will propel society forward to create a lasting foundation for a new digital economy.

National Security (Arlington)
The digital technologies driving the fourth industrial revolution are impacting every corner of society for global good and, in some cases, for malice, compromising global and national security. From directed energy weapons to “smart” improvised explosive devices, from cyber threats to nanotech and microbotics, from bio-agents to genetic weaponry, the nation and world are under new and constant threats. In turn, private and public sector organizations are working to deliver a full spectra of technological advances to ensure safety and security of the nation.  

In Arlington, strategically located proximal to key clients with global influence and in service of the private and public sectors, programs located here will deliver research, education, and outreach programs to address topics of national and homeland security and public policy, including  cybersecurity, applied research, technical services, autonomy, and resilience. Education programs provide public policy training, mentorship, internships, and scholarships, address key policy challenges, and helping students enter public service and obtain federal security clearances. Current research initiatives include cyber-physical system security, orchestrated missions, the convergence of cyber warfare and electronic warfare and a range of global, national and regional public policy issues.

The university’s Arlington center houses the School of Public and International Affairs, secure research environments and accommodates next-generation internet, with direct fiber access to Internet 2 and multiple federal networks. High-performance connectivity links this research center to Virginia Tech’s main campus in Blacksburg, as well as to other major universities and cities. In an era of constant threats, Virginia Tech stands ready to expand its already significant presence in the region, bringing to bear the right collaborative mix of student, faculty, and industry talent to solve our most pressing national security challenges.  

Smart Design & Construction (Falls Church)
In the digital age, the building and construction industry faces unparalleled opportunities and challenges to meet the global demand for sustainable, affordable, and high-tech infrastructure. Innovations will be needed at all levels, from advances in materials and design, to novel fabrication and construction methods, to systems-level approaches that integrate smart components to improve quality of life, support connections among people and places, and ensure sustainability.  

From regional to city scale, to neighborhoods, to individual structures, Virginia Tech’s center of smart design and construction will deliver teaching, research, products, and partnerships for the 21st Century. Through technical domains such as robotics, materials, distributed and smart manufacturing, we will explore ways to improve architecture, design, and construction.

The transdisciplinary nature of the center’s research and development will improve safety and efficiencies within the industry and yield positive benefits for others. From novel processes, to consumer products, to manufacturing, to logistics and transportation, the center for smart design and construction will ensure discoveries made at Virginia Tech have broad economic and societal benefit. Leveraging its location in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area, the center will be a catalyst for further partnerships with national and international organizations in the fields of engineering, construction, design, materials science, and more.

The site alignment process will be completed in four phases.  

  • Phase One: Solicit and evaluate location proposals to make a preliminary recommendation to the Provost.
  • Phase Two: Collect data on the physical space needed to accommodate faculty, staff and students in new office, instructional, research, and other spaces in order to inform design of the new buildings in Alexandria and in Falls Church.
  • Phase Three: Incorporate the data collected in Phase 2 into the facility planning process to ensure programmatic needs are met with the new facilities.
  • Phase Four: Support faculty, staff and students in the relocation of their affected programs.

Phase One is nearing completion. We have solicited proposals from the leaders of each of the existing academic programs in Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church during the Fall 2019 semester. A site alignment review committee, led by Vice President and Dean Karen DePauw, and including representatives from colleges, faculty senate, local leadership and innovation campus planning, evaluated each proposal and provided recommendations to Provost Clarke. Provost Clarke is currently reviewing these recommendations and engaging senior leaders, deans, vice presidents, and others to make final determinations.

(03/31/20) Phase Two began mid-February. Vice Provost Ken Smith is leading the space data collection process. Using existing space management formats and standards, each senior management area has submitted information on the type and amount of workspace and conference rooms, research labs, instructional spaces, and other specialized space that each program (or group of programs) needs in Fall 2024. Submissions are currently under analysis. Campus planners will use the information to inform planning for new facilities that adequately support the needs of each program.

(02/20/20) Phase Two is about to be underway. Vice Provost Ken Smith will lead the space data collection process, set to begin in February. Using existing space management formats and standards, each senior management area will submit information about their faculty, staff and students and the related office, instruction and research space needed for each program (or group of programs) their respective areas. We expect this part of the process to be complete by late March or early April.

Phase Three will take place over the next couple of years and will follow the regular timeline of planning and construction projects. During this phase, campus planners will continue to engage stakeholders so that the needs of affected stakeholders and their programs are incorporated as the new construction projects advance.

Phase Four will plan and execute the relocation of affected programs and their students, staff and faculty once the new facilities.

Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus will be a major component in the first phase of a new North Potomac Yard mixed-use development in Alexandria. The Innovation Campus will be located on about four acres at the northern end, near Alexandria’s border with Arlington County and may ultimately expand to three university buildings. The other seven buildings will house office, residential, and ground-level retail space. A new yellow/blue line Metro station is being constructed at the south end of the property.

Construction of the first academic building is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Yes. There are plans to have both administrative and instructional space in the North Potomac Yard district in advance of opening the new campus. The university has secured a lease for office space just south of the planned development site. This space will house the office of the VP and Executive Director of the innovation campus. We continue to work with the developer to secure additional space in the immediate area that could be configured for instruction. Enrollment in the expanded masters degree programs has begun and all academic activity and instruction will continue at the Falls Church campus through Spring 2021. Stakeholders will be engaged in decisions regarding where and how activities will take place in the future.

In 2019, Virginia Tech received two unsolicited proposals under the Public-Private Education Infrastructure Act (PPEA) to redevelop the property in and around the Northern Virginia Center at Falls Church. The proposal from HITT Construction has passed through a preliminary analysis, a public comment period, and a university review. Efforts to come to a comprehensive agreement on the detailed PPEA are on-going and are subject to Board of Visitors and state approval. The proposal under review includes a new academic facility, a national center for smart design and construction, HITT Contracting corporate headquarters, and a commercial and residential complex.  

Thematic alignment is not dependent upon a success outcome of the PPEA proposal. The theme of smart design and construction is supported by but transcends the PPEA proposal. This theme is a long-term strategic area of growth associated with the Intelligent Infrastructure and Human Centered Communities Destination Area.

The thematic alignment process applies to the major interdisciplinary sites in Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church. The university has no plans to change the mission or academic/research activity at any of these focused disciplinary sites.

Support Services Assessment

Updated April 3, 2020

As we continue to evolve, grow, and align our academic programs and activities across the greater Washington, D.C. area, it is important that we are organized and positioned to deliver the highest quality services possible in the most efficient, effective, and consistent manner. The support services assessment was focused on better understanding how administrative and student services are currently delivered in the region, and on collecting ideas and perspectives from existing programs on their anticipated future needs.

Sibson Consulting (now Segal Consulting) conducted the assessment through a series of interviews during December 2019 and January 2020.

It focused on service delivery across 13 functional areas:

  • Business Services (Mail, Parking and Transportation)
  • Employee Housing
  • Enrollment Services (Admissions, Registrar, Financial Aid, Bursar, Immigration, Veterans)
  • Equity and Accessibility
  • Facilities (Building Management)
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Library
  • Procurement
  • Research (Sponsored Program, Secure Research)
  • Safety and Security
  • Student Services (International, Physical and Mental Health, Services for Students with Disabilities, Student Conduct, Dean of Students, Recreation and Wellness, Housing, and Career)

It focused on service delivery at six existing Virginia Tech sites in the region:  

  • Washington Alexandria Architecture Center in Alexandria
  • Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington
  • DC Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C.
  • Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church
  • Marion Dupont Equine Medical Center in Leesburg
  • Occoquan Water Monitoring Laboratory in Manassas

Sibson Consulting interviewed a total of 98 D.C. area faculty, staff, and students from across all existing sites in the D.C. area. They interviewed 36 Blacksburg-based academic and administrative leaders that are responsible for, or support programs in the D.C. area.

The information and perspectives gathered will inform the ways in which Virginia Tech adds new or enhances existing service delivery for faculty, staff, and students in the greater Washington, D.C. area, over the next few years.

The needs of new sites may be informed by the results of the assessment, but will be captured through separate processes.

At this time, the project sponsors have been briefed and the findings and recommendations are under review. Next steps include briefing key stakeholders and participants and making determinations about how best to move forward based on this work.


Lance Collins was named the new Vice President and Executive Director of the Innovation Campus and he will begin his new role August 1, 2020. Prior to then, he will be periodically engaging with ongoing and continuing planning for the campus until he arrives. Collins will be focused on leading Virginia Tech’s efforts related to our role in supporting the vision of the Commonwealth’s Tech Talent Pipeline for producing additional degrees in computer science and related fields. Over time, the Vice President and Executive Director is expected to assume oversight over university operations in the greater, Washington, D.C., metro area.

As more is known about academic program site alignment and the needs that emerge from the services assessment, appropriate staffing and leadership structures will be developed and incorporated into existing regional structures to support its implementation. The Vice President and Executive Director will be a new organizational unit initially staffed and budgeted to oversee development and opening of the Innovation Campus.

The colleges already have a comprehensive funding model that supports their academic and administrative efforts, including those in northern Virginia. The goal is to track all university financial activity, both income and expense, in the region to demonstrate over the long-term the return on investments Virginia Tech has and will make in the region.  

There is also a goal of making space occupancy across facilities in the region cost neutral to the component organizations so that university leadership can make strategic assignments of programs, aligned with the themes. Without regard to various rent/subsidy differences that currently exist.

Just as in Blacksburg, administrative vice presidents/provosts and their management staff are responsible for the efficient and effective delivery of the support services for their domain at all extended campus locations. The goal of the services assessment and envisioned shared services approach is to better support and coordinate the delivery of these functions/services in areas away from Blacksburg. It is also intended to build those services to meet the specific needs of other regions. To accomplish this second goal, locally based day to day oversight and regional advisory groups will be created to shape the services of each shared service unit in each region.

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