I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. In addition to an opportunity to reflect on the many people and things we are thankful for in our lives, the Thanksgiving season also reminds us that the end of the calendar year is quickly approaching. Of course, the cooler temperatures and shorter days have also reminded us that we’re approaching the winter months!
Several of us from CALS and Virginia Tech recently returned from the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities where we had opportunities to learn more about issues, opportunities, and challenges in higher education and research. One of my roles with APLU is chairing the Budget and Advocacy Committee of APLU’s Board on Agriculture Assembly, where we prepare recommendations for annual budget requests for USDA NIFA funding. Among the many priorities is our continual financial request for core capacity lines (Smith-Lever, Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Evans-Allen, and 1890 Institutions Extension), as well as additional support for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. We’ll learn more about our potential for increased funding when President Obama releases the fiscal year 2017 President’s Budget Proposal after the first of the year. In the meantime, we hope to receive final budget numbers for the federal fiscal year 2016 budget this month.
I encourage everyone to become engaged in the university’s visioning process called “Envisioning Virginia Tech: Beyond Boundaries.” As described by President Timothy D. Sands in his Nov. 13 email message to the university community, Beyond Boundaries seeks to envision what our global 21st-century land-grant university will become and how the landscape for higher education will change. Please continue to watch for updates and announcements from President Sands and Provost Thanassis Rikakis as the process evolves. Your input will continue to be very helpful in formulating Virginia Tech’s future direction.
Many thanks to Eric Kauffman and the CALS Diversity Council for hosting Edward Romero, the chief diversity officer at Texas A&M University-Commerce, during his visit to the college on Nov. 12-13.
Romero presented an outstanding seminar entitled “Strategies for Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Populations in Agriculture” and he met with several groups of faculty and staff members and students during his visit. This event was the result of a proposal by Eric Kaufman that was funded by the CALS Diversity Incentive Fund. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the event.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together in the new year.