From the Dean's Perspective
May 15, 2016
We are excited about our recently launched Sustainability Institute, which will prepare students for future leadership roles. This experiential, workforce-development initiative links students to real-world sustainability challenges in the public and private sectors. Our first cohort of 30 students, representing diverse backgrounds, majors, and life experiences, were selected from all colleges at Virginia Tech, including our own. Blending students from different disciplines also allowed the students to learn from each other and gain new perspectives.
There is no one route to sustainability, as global resources are stretched to meet human needs. We need solutions rooted in science, but we also need to help students develop awareness and expertise in sustainability’s social and economic issues. Sustainability is a grand challenge, and we can contribute toward solutions from all disciplines in the college and across campus. We hope this educational experience will not only differentiate our students in the place, but also equip them with a sustained differentiation in their careers as they work towards a sustainable future.
We held the first annual college Briefing Day in January, where we highlighted the work and contributions of many of our faculty in a daylong series of 20-minute presentations. We plan to make this an annual event because learning about the work of our colleagues is the first step in building mutually collaborative teaching, research, and outreach programs.
We are actively participating in the broader discussions about the future of the university and of student education. Several of our faculty have been active participants in the Beyond Boundaries initiative launched by President Sands, which includes the Destination Areas launched by Provost Rikakis. We are well positioned to contribute to the broader mission and initiatives of the university. The scholarship of our faculty is relevant now and, more importantly, as we move forward with new initiatives.
By the time you receive this issue we will have graduated the college’s largest undergraduate class in recent history — more than 225 students. Applications for fall 2016 and offers of admission are both at record highs, so we expect to enroll a larger, more diverse, and more academically qualified freshman class in August. We will be busy this summer with our annual cycle of renovations, classroom improvements, orientation, and the college leadership retreat.
Watch for information about our conference planned for October titled “Women in Natural Resources: Leading, Mentoring, and Connecting.” It will bring a special focus to the contributions of women to our disciplines but also equip participants with skills to flourish in a multicultural work environment.
Finally, 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Originally named the College of Forestry and Wildlife, we have evolved today to become one of the leading, comprehensive programs in North America and were named No. 1 by USA Today College Edition last year. Many of you contributed to the formation of our college, and many of you have been with us in the past 25 years. We plan to celebrate with a yearlong series of events. Stay tuned, planning is underway!
Have a great summer. Please stop by campus and the college if you are in the area. We’d love to see you and catch up.
Warm regards from our faculty, staff, and students,
Paul M. Winistorfer