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Accomplishments and Planning Process

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Full message from
Dean Paul M. Winistorfer

Headshot of Dean Paul M. Winistorfer

The College of Natural Resources and Environment has been engaged in continuous strategic goal setting and execution for a decade. Starting with the first State of the College address in 2009, each year I address the college with a message that begins with reflection but evolves into a hopeful missive that charts a path forward. When you look back at these presentations, you can see the tremendous progress we have made in identifying and achieving our goals over the decade.

We have been opportunistic at every turn in advancing the college: from growing our faculty size, to enrollment growth, to degree program development, to enhancing facilities, to the creation of our Advising Center, to restructuring our development, alumni relations, and communications activities under the umbrella of the Advancement team, and much, much more. We are on a continuous journey of achieving excellence and impact in all we do.

In nearly all areas of teaching, research, outreach, administration, and infrastructure, we operate at capacity in relation to human, fiscal, and physical resources. From student credit hour production to research expenditures and scholarship, our per faculty FTE success is notable. We aspire to do more, but recognize that, at present, it is our scale that often prevents us from pursuing opportunities that lie beyond the boundaries of our current resource allotment. In order to pursue these opportunities and continue to make contributions that will further the goals of the college and the university, we need additional resources. Thus, our objective must be to grow both the enterprise of the college and the business model of the college in concert with the Partnership for Incentivized Base Budget (PIBB) allocation model.

Important to strategic planning is communication. Communication must be frequent, transparent, celebratory of accomplishments, and reflective of the challenges that must be overcome to achieve stated goals as well as the inability to complete planned initiatives. At the college level, our objectives and plans cannot be a laundry list of all things, but must focus on key strategic goals that, if achieved, will make a significant difference in the success, impact, and outcomes for the university, for the college, and for our faculty, staff, and students. A former Virginia Tech president once said to me early in my tenure as dean, “Pick one or two significant goals and work toward them because you can’t do it all. If you have too many goals, your effort gets watered down. Identify a few and stick with them.”

We recognize that governance processes to modify or create new initiatives, by their nature, take a long time, which makes planning and goal setting even more important. For example, if we envision a new undergraduate degree program today, it will be six years before the first students graduate from the program. Planning, goal setting, and continuous execution and measurement toward our strategic priorities, goals, and milestones are critical in this environment.

Paul Winistorfer

Paul Winistorfer
Dean of the college

The state of the college: our accomplishments

Over the past decade (2010-2020), some of our notable achievements include the following:

  • Grew undergraduate enrollment by 100%.
  • Grew and sustained level of research expenditures to $15 million-$17 million annually.
  • The College of Natural Resources and Environment has been consistently named one of the nation’s top programs in natural resources and conservation by College Factual. Our forestry program is also ranked number one by College Factual, and our packaging program is ranked number four by Value Colleges.
  • Renamed the college from the College of Natural Resources to the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • Renamed the Department of Forestry to the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.
  • Renamed the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences to the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
  • Renamed the Department of Wood Science and Forest Products to the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials.
  • Established the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability at Virginia Tech’s Arlington Center in the Greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and the Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) degree program format.
  • Established a new B.S. degree in meteorology — the first in Virginia.
  • Established a new degree in sustainable biomaterials — the first in Virginia.
  • Established a new degree in packaging systems and design — the first in Virginia.
  • Established a new degree in water: resources, policy, and management — the first in the nation.
  • Established a new degree in fish and wildlife conservation with majors in fish conservation and wildlife conservation.
  • Established a new minor in geographic information science.
  • Secured two endowments totaling nearly $750,000 in support of students in the water degree program.
  • Established a collegewide Leadership Institute and raised more than $100,000 in contributions to support the institute.
  • Established the Wood Enterprise Institute as a concept-to-market experiential learning experience for our students and raised more than $250,000 in private support for the institute.
  • Created 15 new faculty positions with new funding lines.
  • Developed a new website and social media presence, college prospectus, and quarterly newsmagazine focused on our new brand.
  • Invested more than $3 million in renovations and new facilities.

More about the college’s strategic planning process

The college plan is an amalgamation of the department documents and incorporates their strategic priorities under the larger themes of the college plan. Over the past two years, the Dean’s Advisory Council, a trusted group of stakeholders, has been included in discussions about identifying and supporting innovation in teaching, research, and outreach. Several notable accomplishments have come directly from the advice and counsel of this group, such as creating and supporting with private funds the position of director of employer relations, preplanning around the proposed School of Environmental Security, and ideating around the proposed B.S. degree in urban natural resources. Resources to endow both a student scholarship fund and an undergraduate research fund in water were suggested and funded by a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

We continue to consult frequently with our state and federal agency partners, and their input is also evident in the college’s strategic plan. College faculty and leadership spent two days in Washington, D.C., seeking advice and counsel from federal partners on our programming and future initiatives. Our planned B.S. in urban natural resources is, in part, a result of input from federal partners.

We collected data from the University Data Commons and involved our campus library staff in analyzing faculty scholarship. We reflected on the campus climate survey and the COACHE survey results as we considered strengthening our status as a destination for talent and achieving institutional excellence. Once the college scorecard metrics are finalized, these analytics will also be useful in revisiting our goals and milestones on an annual basis.

As we move forward, we will monitor our progress annually at the college and department levels, tracking progress toward priorities and goals. In addition, we know that our process must be flexible to accommodate reconsideration of strategic opportunities not identified through this planning process.