Envisioning Excellence

Virginia Tech will embrace a Culture of Innovation as a core strategy to make the quantum leaps necessary to lead in a world that is changing at an unprecedented rate.

Did those responsible for planning VPI&SU’s future in the early 1970’s foresee the personal computer and the Internet? Did Tech’s environmental scan in 1980 envision a reversal in the balance of state support? Did our plans 20 years ago anticipate an influx of for‐profit colleges offering students a wide range of asynchronous learning options? Of course not! These things were largely unforeseeable.

Organizations that have adapted well to the momentous and accelerating pace of change in society have been alert to the environment, used resources in a way that embraces risk, and have been organizationally nimble. Those organizations that have failed to cope with change—much less shape it — have been less aware, progressive, and flexible. Virginia Tech must continue to embrace an organizational ethos that is adaptive and innovative.

We don’t know what the next Big Idea will be, from what continent it will come, or when it will come. We do know that change will continue to accelerate and that the status quo as we perceive it will always be on its way out the door. Our goal is to frame the challenge and suggest the means by which Virginia Tech can foster a culture of innovation that is acknowledged and admired world‐wide.  To make this our stated goal is to propose that we treat the dizzying pace of contemporary change not as a problem, but as an opportunity, and that we continue and expand the creativity and innovation that have always marked our best efforts and contributed the most to our reputation.

The Goal

Our university should continue to foster a culture that supports faculty, students, staff, and partners and that actively creates opportunities to express innovative solutions to the world’s grand challenges, and to do so in a virtual public square, encouraging sharing and cross‐pollination of ideas and meaningful involvement in communities from local to global.

In learning:

We should continue to innovate in pedagogy, recruiting, establishing degrees, and creating collaborative external partnerships to enable real-world experiences for the next generation of skilled learners, critical thinkers, change agents, and entrepreneurs.

 In discovery:

We should continue to value innovation in the risk/reward structure of experimentation, in collaboration within and beyond geographical boundaries of the institution, and in evaluative measures of success and commercialization of our discoveries.

In engagement:

We should continue innovating our means and methods as a global land-grant university for reaching, engaging, and enhancing economic vitality and quality of life for our local, regional, national and international communities.

The Better Life Index

The OECD has developed the "Better Life Index" as a more comprehensive indicator than GDP of quality of life in market economy industrialized nations.

In administration and management:

We should continue innovating the alignment of our culture, people, structures, work processes, finances, incentives, and technologies by creating internal “think and do tanks” with a mission to help seed academic and administrative leaders with well-vetted tools, technologies, and the financial resources necessary to foster innovation in their own units and across the enterprise.

Dr. Hannah Gray, former President of the University of Chicago, on “The Uses of the University Revisited,” a discussion and analysis of Clark Kerr’s seminal work on American higher education.



Leave a Reply