We have been basking in the enjoyment of our No. 1 ranking by USA Today College for undergraduate study in natural resources and conservation. Congratulations to our faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters, and university leadership for this accomplishment! We are very proud of all that we do. Knowing that we live and work in very dynamic and challenging times, we are committed to a forward-looking agenda for the college.

We celebrated the opening of our new Research Aviary in September, accompanied by a chorus of Canada geese in the adjacent field. This state-of-the-art facility will greatly enhance our research capabilities as well as provide a unique opportunity for student experiential learning. The aviary is located in our Center Woods complex adjacent to campus, a site that is important to our future as we deal with the challenges of our constrained, aging, and inadequate infrastructure on campus.

We have reorganized the academic programs office and renamed it the Advising Center. With the hiring of additional staff, our focus is on providing our students and faculty the best support in advising, mentoring, career exploration, and student recruitment.

I have leveraged the great work of a team of students from the 2014-15 Leadership Institute cohort to charter and create a college Student Council. With representation from all academic departments, the council, composed of 12 undergraduates, will provide direct input to me from our students. This promises to be an engaging and valuable conversation as we welcome and consider all input in our efforts to achieve and maintain the highest quality and impactful academic programs and co-curricular experiences for our students.

We launched the sixth cohort of the college’s Leadership Institute with an overnight retreat in August. Thank you to those who support the institute and this unique learning experience. Students who complete this yearlong academic program gain valuable skills and insights that will last a lifetime. We launch the inaugural Sustainability Institute cohort in January 2016 and will report on this unique, co-curricular experience in the spring.

We welcome to Thanassis Rikakis as Virginia Tech’s new Executive Vice President and University Provost. All of us in the college look forward to working with Dr. Rikakis to advance the strategic agenda of the college and the university.

As we approach 2016 we know that natural resources and the environment around the globe face challenges never before seen. The agenda of the college is more important than ever, and we are well positioned to make impactful and meaningful contributions.

Warm regards from the faculty, staff, and students. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and the promises of the New Year.


Paul M. Winistorfer