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Provost's Update - February 2019

The decision by Amazon to locate its new headquarters in Northern Virginia was motivated in large part by Virginia Tech’s commitment to establish the Innovation Campus and create the tech talent pipeline necessary for economic growth. While this is a new and exciting development, serving the educational needs of the region originated years ago, when Virginia Tech began offering graduate courses and programs to students throughout Northern Virginia.

From its humble beginnings in 1969 in a Reston farmhouse with two resident faculty members, a part-time staff, and 65 students, our graduate programs in Northern Virginia have grown to nearly 800 master’s and doctoral students at seven area locations. Guided by our land grant commitment to educate and enrich the citizens of the commonwealth, Virginia Tech has become an important part of the Northern Virginia community and a catalyst for advancing its knowledge economy.

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of offering graduate education in the National Capital Region. This exciting milestone provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the growth and successes we have enjoyed in the past while, at the same time, looking forward and sharing our vision for the impacts that Virginia Tech will have in Northern Virginia in the decades to come. Key to the future of graduate education in the region is the Innovation Campus, which will deliver graduate education programs designed to drive technology education and research, and transform the commonwealth's capacity and infrastructure for innovation.

One of the primary graduate education goals for Northern Virginia that we will accomplish at the Innovation Campus is to graduate approximately 750 master’s degree students in computer science by 2026-27. This particular degree program will focus on experiential learning in a professional context. Ultimately, the Innovation Campus will bring together hundreds of new graduate students from a variety of disciplines, dozens of new faculty members, and a number of industry partners.

The initial emphasis on graduate student enrollment in the National Capital Region will be on computer sciences and computer and software engineering. However, I anticipate in the short term that program offerings will be expanded to include data sciences, and later a broader representation of disciplines consistent with our comprehensive land grant mission. All of these graduate programs will build on our university-wide commitment to foster and advance transdisciplinary education and research, and will be designed to take full advantage of the opportunities and needs in the community.

Virginia Tech’s role in attracting Amazon and our vision for the Innovation Campus is built upon decades of growth and success we have had in graduate education in the National Capital Region. I hope you will join our faculty, staff, students, and alumni for a special 50th anniversary celebration of graduate education on April 23rd from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center.