The college hosted a networking event for students, faculty, and industry leaders at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade in Richmond March 7. More than 60 attendees had the opportunity to share career advice and talk about agricultural trade over a reception and dinner sponsored in part by First Bank & Trust Company. Gov. McAuliffe spoke at the conference and announced that Virginia saw $3.19 billion in agricultural and forestry exports in 2015. Virginia Tech continues to be a significant partner in growing exports through research, outreach, and education initiatives.
March 21 marks the two-year anniversary of the opening of the HABB1 Building — 93,500 square feet of pilot plants, research labs, and support facilities focused on a wide range of food science and biological systems engineering research. We can point to multiple success stories, the most recent of which is the new brew house and malting system that adds another component to the fermentation program. Many of our students now have additional opportunities to study the science of fermentation and its application in the food processing and pharmaceutical industries, and our faculty is better able to serve these industries through related research and Extension programs.
I hope you take the time to attend the next Beyond Boundaries Town Hall Meeting Monday, April 4, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. President Sands, Provost Rikakis, and the leadership team will report on the progress of this major initiative in which CALS will play an important role.
Our efforts to secure funding to upgrade the college’s livestock and poultry facilities are moving forward with the governor and the Virginia General Assembly. We are grateful to government and industry leaders and our stakeholders for their support of this important project, which includes $22.5 million in state funding to address the first phase of construction and renovation.
CALS student enrollment continues to grow, making the Class of 2016 one of the largest graduating classes in the college’s history, and all indications point to the Class of 2020 exceeding last year’s enrollment figures. Students who have applied to be part of the Class of 2020, as well as others in high school who are thinking of applying to Virginia Tech, will be touring campus over the next few weeks. Hokie Focus 2016 — an event for students who have been offered admission and want to learn more about our programs before making their decisions — will take place April 9 and 10.
Our students transitioning to new alumni status will gather later this month to celebrate at a networking event at the Hahn Horticulture Garden Pavilion. Katie Frazier, ’04, president of the Virginia Agribusiness Council, will give the keynote address. I hope you will join me in wishing our graduates well as they begin new careers and achieve great things.