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Provost's Update - May 2018

The summer months offer a good opportunity to pause and reflect on the progress and successes of the previous academic year, and to celebrate the outcomes of our efforts to collaborate, cooperate, and communicate. The work done collectively to advance our transdisciplinary initiatives through partnerships in our Destination Areas and Strategic Growth Areas has created a variety of new learning and discovery opportunities for students and faculty.

Here is a small sample of these achievements that show how our DAs and SGAs are contributing to moving Virginia Tech’s Beyond Boundaries vision forward:

New faculty, who have come to Virginia Tech as a result of our cluster hiring efforts and who are working with talented colleagues across the campus, are helping to bring to fruition our DA and SGA goals as well as a number of other transdisciplinary collaborations taking shape involving colleges and research institutes.

More than 45 new DA faculty have been recruited to Virginia Tech with only five positions remaining to be filled to achieve our goal for the first two years of cluster hires. Together with faculty recruited into existing college-funded lines, these hires constitute a significant investment in the future of our DAs and SGAs, and our commitment to transdisciplinary achievement.

Moving forward, we need to develop and implement strategies to enable these faculty to be successful in advancing their careers and support them in establishing communities of scholars focused on transdisciplinary research and education themes. I anticipate that further development of transdisciplinary programs will be advanced by engaging with non-university partners to address large and complex problems that challenge the communities we serve. Examples of broad problem areas that are already serving this function include cyber initiatives and the convergence of factors affecting the public, animal, and environmental health of rural communities in the U.S. and around the world.

These large and complex problems create opportunities for many constituent projects spanning a wide range of disciplines to engage research scholars and students for an extended period of time. They also offer the potential for linking DAs and SGAs, research institutes and centers, and integrated graduate programs. These transdisciplinary relationships will result in a more cohesive approach to developing areas of excellence that are distinctive, strategically relevant, large enough to have impact, and sustainable for the longer term.

As we recognize and celebrate the outstanding efforts of our faculty and partners who have come together to work on complex problem areas such as these, I hope that we will use their achievements as momentum for the upcoming academic year. I look forward to continuing our work together and showcasing the successes of our Virginia Tech campus community.