Virginia Tech Magazine
President's Message
Spring 2008

Ut Prosim Pylon
John McCormick
Looking back, looking ahead by Charles W. Steger

This spring, we marked the one-year anniversary of the most painful date in the collective lives of this university community: April 16. We called it a Day of Remembrance so that we could focus on the 27 young people who had led inspirational lives and the five professors who had devoted their careers to helping that next generation. I hope and trust that this day continues the process of healing all who still carry this bottomless sorrow.

I also hope that this day will mark and inform the cyclical process of renewal rooted in the nature of any university. This sense of renewal often has sustained me because it fuels hopes for a better future. Indeed, our very reason for being--illustrated by the students who flock to our doors each year--is to better the future.

Because of our tragedy, we and colleges and universities across the nation have been reassessing policies and procedures for maintaining safe and secure campuses. We have been bolstering internal support programs for student mental health. Yet we also recognize that we are not immune from society's larger problems.

While we have changed--and how could we not?--Virginia Tech, like America's other leading universities, has not deviated from serving its fundamental roles as a place of inquiry, a place of self-discovery, and a place where one comes to understand how to use the power of knowledge for a lifetime.

In this regard, I am inspired and moved by our students who showed such dignity and poise during the days and weeks after April 16. Their intelligence and commitment to the common good energizes me and reminds me that Virginia Tech must never falter in its quest for excellence.

We have devoted an enormous amount of resources, human and financial, to ensure the health and safety of the campus community. But we have also continued to carry out our more traditional initiatives to improve the quality and relevance of our programs.

We continue to expand the emphasis on internationalization. International travel and study for undergraduates is at an all-time high with more than 1,000 studying overseas each year. We are expanding foreign language instruction, and we continue to emphasize undergraduate research and scholarship and its corollary, experiential learning.

About the time you read this, we will be making a formal announcement of a new center for learning and discovery in Arlington, Va. Sometime within the next year, we will break ground in Roanoke, Va., for Virginia's newest medical college, a partnership between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic.

In addition, the Arts Initiative is picking up steam. The plan includes an $80-plus million Center for the Arts; expanded roles for two new schools of the arts; integration of digital technologies for the arts; and outreach programs, particularly for K-12.

Innovative new facilities for research and discovery, such as the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), are beginning to percolate. The Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Lab, a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art operation, opened last fall at the Corporate Research Center. ICTAS I, a 100,000-square-foot building that will house ICTAS headquarters and the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences laboratories, will open later this year.

Also on the drawing boards are major new facilities for agriculture, engineering, and science. All of these initiatives are signs that Virginia Tech continues to move forward.

In closing, I would like to comment on a well-known, but possibly not fully understood, phenomenon: the closeness of the Hokie Nation and the Hokie family. In spite of its size, this large university always has been a small community at heart. During the days, weeks, and months after the April 2007 shootings, you and your fellow Hokie family members were crucial to our survival--your love, care, and continued support sustained the campus community in ways that cannot be described. On behalf of all of us back home here in Blacksburg, we thank you.

And so spring unfolds again in Blacksburg--the beginning of another cycle and the beginning of renewal.

Virginia Tech