From the Dean's Perspective
February 15, 2015
The college’s Leadership Institute, highlighted on the cover of this issue, is now in its fifth year. A total of 60 students, including the current student cohort, have participated in this yearlong academic experience in which they focus on learning about themselves and about leadership. Our vision was to create a signature program that would benefit our students in a very special way, and we have succeeded. I have personally witnessed the transformation and growth of our students, especially during the weeklong trip each January to visit with leaders from across the spectrum of state and federal agencies, private-sector and nongovernmental organizations, and the offices of Virginia’s senators. I am most proud of our success and thankful to institute co-directors Steve McMullin and Brian Bond.
We are making a significant difference in the lives and future careers of the Leadership Institute students, and we are thankful for the generous contributions of the many donors who support our vision. The Leadership Institute may be the most significant and transformational student experience I’ve been involved with during my 30-year career in academia, and I have learned much while interacting with these students. Over and over, the leaders we meet with tell us they wish they had had this kind of experience in college — it took them years to develop their leadership skills on the job.
We are finalizing plans to create a Sustainability Institute co-curricular experience for undergraduate students in a framework similar to the Leadership Institute. Our goal is to prepare future sustainability professionals by equipping students with a sustainability lens for decision making. Don’t let the jargon fool you — there is real substance, knowledge, and skills to be applied to sustainability challenges that impact the environmental, economic, and social well-being of current and future generations. Advancing the science of sustainability is the college brand, and I am confident that we are creating a student experience that will complement our rigorous and challenging curricula across the college.
Our new bachelor’s degree titled Water: Resources, Policy, and Management has received final approval and will be offered in fall 2015. We view this degree as a leading academic effort and a national role model for the study of water. Faculty representing five colleges and 10 departments came together to create the degree platform. Please help us recruit students to this degree. Water quality and quantity is a challenge facing the entire planet.
We lost a forestry leader in late 2014. Alumnus Jim Mooney lost his yearlong battle with cancer in October (see article). Per Jim’s wishes, a memorial scholarship has been established in the college to support students studying forestry. Thanks to those of you who have contributed in memory of Jim. He will be missed by many.
Best wishes for the spring. We have outstanding students entering the workforce with May commencement, so we welcome any employment opportunities for them.
Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students.
Paul M. Winistorfer