Virginia Tech BOV Hears Report on Research, Teaching, and Growth Advancement from College of Science

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Virginia Tech College of Science Acting Dean Ron Fricker updated Virginia Tech’s visitor advice on Sunday, November 7, saying the college is “accelerating science” both by increasing its research prices and by strengthening philanthropic support, and it focuses on supporting and advancing the strategic vision of the university.

“The College of Science’s deep commitment to world-class scholarship, basic research, educational excellence, innovation and awareness positions us as the college with the ability to ‘move the needle’ in meaningful ways in Virginia Tech’s ranking as a global land allotment university, ”said Fricker.

Fricker also pointed to the College of Science as an educational powerhouse that teaches over a quarter of all undergraduate credit hours at Virginia Tech. In fact, over 98% of all undergraduates take at least one course at the College of Science, and undergraduate enrollment in science majors has grown steadily over the past four years, increasing 35% since 2017. to reach 4,827 students.

“I am also very proud to report that, thanks to the dedication and creativity of our faculty, 94% of our classes are taught in person this semester,” said Fricker. The remaining six percent is a combination of hybrid and fully online courses to give students choice. “For example,” said Fricker, “in some of our classes that have a lot of sections, we’ve offered a few in an online format and let the students choose.”

Fricker pointed to the College of Science’s research portfolio, where over the past four years total research grants have increased 66%, reaching $ 47.5 million last year. Additionally, in 2020, three university professors received prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation, as well as an award from the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to other junior professors.

The college has helped develop its research by investing in faculty. As an example, Fricker pointed to the Dean’s Discovery Fund internal grant program – made possible by the Dean Lay Nam Chang Chair, endowed by the Dean’s Roundtable of the College of Science. As Fricker explained, the College of Science invests endowment proceeds in faculty through a competitive process.

“This effort is working very well,” Fricker said. “The investments have enabled faculty to compete and win additional external research awards of over $ 6 million, which is ten times the investment.

The college’s advancement work has also generated impressive growth across the board, Fricker said. Total college commitments of $ 9.4 million in 2021 were up 31% from the previous four-year average. Total donors have increased by 120% since 2017, increasing by 37% between 2020 and 2021, reaching a donor participation rate of 18.4%.

Fricker focused on two key elements of the College of Science’s six-year strategic plan to the Visitors Council: the creation of the Academy of Data Science – designed to become a hub of interdisciplinary work in data science – and the development of a leadership program for women in science. .

“We want Virginia Tech College of Science to become a destination for talent,” said Fricker. “Our Women in Science Leadership program is part of our goal of creating a diverse and inclusive community of scientists. “

The Academy of Data Science, including the Computer Modeling and Data Analysis program, will be located in the Data and Decision Sciences building, which is part of the Global Business and Analytics Complex at Virginia Tech. On March 12, the university inaugurated the Data and Decisions Sciences building, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

Data science, Fricker said, is just one example of how the College of Science collaborates across the university. He provided examples of collaboration between the college and nearly every other college and institute in Virginia Tech, from the major in Philosophy, Politics and Economics hosted at the College of Liberal Arts and Humanities at the Hume Center and Innovation Campus in Greater Washington, DC, metro area.

“The past two years have shown the essential role that science plays in society,” said Fricker. “Scientific excellence has fueled the rise of Virginia Tech over the past 150 years, and we are in an excellent position to help lead the university to even greater heights.


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