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Provost's Update - April 2018

Virginia Tech is leveraging institutional strengths to create large-scale global impacts and tackle the world’s most pressing problems through research, education, and engagement.

That statement is not just a vision or an aspirational declaration of intent. It is the foundation for Beyond Boundaries and for the transdisciplinary and multifunctional areas of excellence that have come to define our Destination Areas (DAs) and Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs).

For the past couple of years, our DAs and SGAs have brought together diverse faculty from across the campus to create opportunities to position Virginia Tech as a ‘destination’ for international talent, partnerships, and transformative knowledge. As a key component of our Beyond Boundaries vision, DAs and SGAs are helping to advance Virginia Tech as a premier 21st century global land-grant institution that is positively impacting and enhancing the human condition.

As our current DAs and SGAs continue to evolve, we should acknowledge that these ‘centers of excellence’ are not designed to capture all the creativity, innovation, or aspirations of the university. We constantly need to look for ways to support other segments of our campus community not captured in the DAs and SGAs, and to empower them to contribute their strengths and develop their own passions and interest.

DAs and SGAs, whether existing or emerging, must be distinct, strategically relevant, large enough to have impact, and financially sustainable in order for them to contribute to achieving our goals and land grant mission. They must also be structured so as to create opportunities for experiential learning and transdisciplinary engagement for Virginia Tech students. As academic leaders and advocates, we must ensure that we continue to empower and support people from across the campus who are committed to working on broad issues and to achieving common goals.

Much has already been accomplished by our DA and SGA teams and the talented people working within them, and I believe that we have been successful in selecting the right focus areas for the first set of DAs and SGAs. More than 35 new DA faculty have been hired and we are well on our way to recruiting another 35 during the next year. Together with faculty recruited into existing college-funded lines, these hires constitute a very significant investment in our future.

We need to take time to celebrate the faculty, staff, and students who are actively engaged in developing the DAs and SGAs. Their achievements and future progress will motivate us to develop new opportunities to collaborate. I look forward to continuing our work together to support emerging areas of collaboration and centers of excellence.