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Delivery Team Works to Shape Innovation Campus

Virginia Tech leaders prepare for the announcement of Amazon’s headquarters in Northern Virginia in November. From left to right, they are Brandy Salmon, associate vice president for innovation and partnerships and founding managing director of the Innovation Campus; Monecia Taylor, associate vice president for principal gifts; Natalie Hart, assistant vice president for advancement for the National Capital Region; Julia Ross, dean of the College of Engineering; and President Tim Sands.

Leaders from across the university are actively working to shape and plan the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus.

Since the November announcement of the Amazon headquarters in Northern Virginia, an executive team has been driving the vision and strategy of the Innovation Campus, and a senior-level delivery team has focused on meeting key milestones while integrating input from across the university and external partners.

Colleges, units, and locations across the university are represented on the team, including operations, fundraising, government relations, communications, academic programming, research, and leadership in the National Capital Region. The team helps to inform the design and development of academic programs while managing other logistics, allowing the university to move forward with developing a site, forging key partnerships, planning a curriculum, and recruiting students and faculty.

The $1 billion campus, planned for Alexandria, Virginia, was announced in November to coincide with Amazon’s decision to open a second national headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Brandy Salmon, Virginia Tech’s associate vice president for innovation and partnerships, leads the delivery team, and she is also part of the executive team. She recently added the title of founding managing director of the Innovation Campus.

“A big point of the next three to four months is to start to capture the information we need to set the trajectory of the campus,” said Salmon, who regularly meets with leadership teams and other university stakeholders to gather input and provide updates on the project. “We have established a fantastic cross-functional team focused on achieving our goals while considering a wide range of factors to drive success on everything from program design to research themes to places and spaces. We’re actively capturing insight from inside the university, as well as industry partners and public sector partners. We need to make sure we know what the needs are today and anticipate future needs.”

Salmon stressed the need for disciplined and thoughtful planning that’s focused beyond the next decade.

“We believe this campus will offer Virginia Tech a platform for growth and impact over the next century,” she said. “We take our mission seriously.”

The Innovation Campus will offer leading programs in computer science and software engineering. It is expected to be a global center of technology excellence and talent production, supporting graduate education, attracting top-tier faculty, sparking research and partnerships, and igniting the region’s innovation economy.

Brandy Salmon talks about plans for the Innovation Campus as part of a panel discussion this week hosted by the Society for Information Management at the Virginia Tech Arlington Research Center. In addition to external community outreach, Salmon regularly meets with university stakeholders to gather input and provide updates.

Members of the executive team, under the guidance of Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, are Cyril Clarke, executive vice president and provost; Charlie Phlegar, vice president for advancement; Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation; Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president for operations and administration; Dwight Shelton, vice president for finance and chief financial officer; and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for diversity, inclusion, and strategic affairs.

Delivery team members have morning check-in calls three times a week, and they gather in person at least twice a month to maintain momentum and make and share key decisions and actions. The team will continue to evolve as needed through 2019 and pave the way for Northern Virginia-based Innovation Campus leadership to oversee and run the campus.

As the delivery team continues its work, others from across campus will be engaged as the team seeks input from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders and as needs of the project evolve.

Virginia Tech has an established track record for launching and nurturing new enterprises that dates back 50 years to the first graduate programs in Northern Virginia – now seven different locations in the National Capital Region – and includes the creation and growth of the Virginia Tech School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

“This project is unique, with the potential to transform the commonwealth into a leader for tech talent and innovation,” Sands said.  “We are moving quickly, with leadership deeply involved in a collective approach aimed at driving progress across several concurrent work streams in a coordinated and effective manner. Our delivery team is essential to the success of the Innovation Campus.”

The following leaders are guiding units within the delivery team:

Operations: (operations, real estate, finance)

Lisa Wilkes, vice president for business affairs

Liza Morris, interim assistant vice president for planning and university architect

Ken Smith, vice provost for academic resource management

Research themes and partners strategic planning:

Laurel Miner, chief of staff for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation

Academic planning and college operations:

Ed Nelson, associate dean and chief of staff for the College of Engineering

Ken Smith, vice provost for academic resource management

Communications and community outreach:

Tracy Vosburgh, senior associate vice president for university relations

Government relations:

Chris Yianilos, executive director of government relations

Business community relations:

Steven McKnight, vice president of the National Capital Region


Natalie Hart, assistant vice president for advancement for the National Capital Region

Regular updates on the progress of the campus will be reported through Virginia Tech News and featured in the Virginia Tech Daily email.

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