In August 2015 President Timothy D. Sands challenged the university community to engage in a visioning process to support two interrelated goals: advancing Virginia Tech as a global land-grant university, and strategically addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing landscape of higher education.


The initiative challenges all members of the university community to think well beyond traditional timelines, mindsets, and paradigms to envision the university we aspire to become in a generation’s time.

The Challenge


Now, more than ever, the impacts of globalization require us to consider how best to prepare our students for the interconnected world in which they will live and work — a world that will demand a global perspective. Through research and analysis conducted by the Office of the Senior Fellow for Resource Development, we identified four thematic areas central to our future: student preparedness, the campus of the future, discovering new funding models, and the global land-grant mission.

Thematic Areas


+ Research and Analysis

Committee membership was comprised of thought leaders from the university community. Participants represented different academic disciplines and functional areas of university life, providing a diverse population important to inclusive and creative thought processes.




Destination Areas combine our world-leading research, faculty and technology, with a strong experiential component. The term “Destination” references the goal of the identifying cross-cutting themes that will be “destinations” for talent. Destination Areas will evolve on the timescale of a decade as the needs of our society evolve, in contrast to the more permanent disciplinary department/college structure that serves to aggregate knowledge and evaluate quality. The faculty engaged in each Destination Area, in collaboration with colleagues across the university, will create crosscutting, interdisciplinary majors designed to facilitate the development of VT-shaped students. Students will be challenged to focus on real problems and thus engage in the purpose-driven, “hand-on, minds-on” work that is a hallmark of the Virginia Tech undergraduate student experience.

Destination Areas





Former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman launched the Beyond Boundaries project with a public lecture in Blacksburg in September, 2015. Coleman addresses the need for universities to become more innovative and entrepreneurial.














President Sands, Provost Rikakis, and the Beyond Boundaries leadership hosted town hall meetings to update the Virginia Tech community on the Beyond Boundaries project.












Through informal video vignettes, students shared personal stories about their Virginia Tech experiences. We asked, "Where do you want Virginia Tech to take you? What is standing in your way?" We learned about organizational and cultural barriers that impede some students' full potential.








Communitywide participation is essential to the Beyond Boundaries project. During the 2015-16 academic year, participants gave feedback through the Beyond Boundaries idea bank and in-person meetings with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and external stakeholders. In addition, students shared their Virginia Tech experiences and hopes for the future through video vignettes.






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Copyright @ 2015 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All ideas experimental.