Provost's Update - February 2018

Virginia Tech’s tripartite land-grant mission of teaching, research, and service is central to our Beyond Boundaries vision and will continue to shape the future direction of our university. Our comprehensive educational programs together with basic and applied research are designed to advance development of human capital and promote economic development. Our service and outreach programs transfer the benefits of these teaching and research missions to every county in the Commonwealth and beyond.

This commitment to teaching, research, and service is closely connected with the purpose-driven learning and engagement, disciplinary depth, and interdisciplinary capacities that define the VT-shaped model at the center of the Beyond Boundaries vision. From its outset, Beyond Boundaries has sought to provide students with more than just depth of knowledge within a specific area of study and opportunities to work with fellow students of faculty from other disciplines. It focuses on setting Virginia Tech apart from its peers by creating opportunities for students to engage directly with the communities we serve in the spirit of Ut Prosim, and to build a rich experiential learning structure that will graduate “VT-shaped individuals.”  

All three dimensions of VT-shaped discovery, and how they work together in the engagement and education of our students and stakeholders is critical to achieving our goals and serving future generations of Virginians.

Depth of disciplinary commitment, or the vertical of the “T,” spans the entire spectrum of learning from arts and humanities to social and basic sciences to technology and health sciences. Providing a strong liberal education to compliment specific programs of study will, as is stated in Beyond Boundaries, “place graduates on a path toward becoming global citizens in inclusive communities which exhibit a lifelong commitment to understanding, empathizing with, and learning from diverse collaborators.”

Cross-disciplinary integration and engagement, represented by the horizontal crossbar of the “T,” affords us opportunities to develop new areas of knowledge, collaboration, and discovery that can differentiate us from our peers. We have already seen significant progress and impact in this area through our Destination Area and Strategic Growth Areas as well as the collaborative work of our centers and institutes, and Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs (IGEPs) to name a few. These interdisciplinary efforts will continue to be the catalyst for creating new growth and learning opportunities for students, faculty, and partners.

The fusion of disciplinary depth and cross-disciplinary integration within the VT-shaped model is achieved through close engagement with our various communities and our contributions to those we serve (the “V” in VT-shaped). The product of this union is experiential learning, which becomes the value proposition for this tripartite model. Experiential learning and discovery enables Virginia Tech to coalesce a powerful combination of academic and research strengths, and talented faculty and staff who are focused on collaborative and transformative scholarship.

The VT-shaped model for learning and discovery is already significantly impacting what our students are creating and experiencing across our campus. To see first-hand the power of this vision and the people who are producing results, I would encourage you to participate in the Student Experiential Learning Conference on April 13th. This conference will showcase many of the projects and experiences that exemplify purpose-driven experiential learning including undergraduate research, service-learning, study abroad, and internships.

I am convinced that the parallels between our tripartite land-grant mission and our VT-shaped discovery model will prepare and position Virginia Tech for success and distinction. I hope that you will continue to embrace and advance the opportunities that are created for our students though experiential learning, and its role in moving Virginia Tech Beyond Boundaries.