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New Ph.D. programs, School of Construction, among future academic offerings


BLACKSBURG, Va., March 27, 2006 – The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved several resolutions from its Academic Affairs Committee, paving the way for a variety of new and innovative undergraduate and graduate programs.

Chief among them was the approval of a resolution to establish a new School of Construction. The proposed school will enhance Virginia Tech’s recognized strong position of national leadership in construction education and research. The Vecellio Construction Engineering and Management Program in the Via Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Department of Building Construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will form the new school—the first of its kind in the nation

Last October, two Virginia Tech alumni, A. Ross Myers, CEO of American Infrastructure, headquartered in Worcester, Pa., and John R. Lawson, II, president and CEO of W. M. Jordan Co., of Newport News, Va., and Richmond, Va., pledged $10 million towards the proposed Myers-Lawson School of Construction.

The board also approved the creation of three new academic degree programs—a Ph.D. in geospatial and environmental analysis in the College of Natural Resources; a Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in humanities, Science and environment in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences;

In addition, a resolution was approved to replace the Ph.D. in environmental design and planning with the Ph.D. in architecture and design research and the Ph.D. in planning, governance, and globalization, all in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

“The creation of these new Ph.D. programs further illustrates Virginia Tech’s commitment to building a stronger and more academically diverse graduate education program,” said Karen DePauw, dean of the Graduate School. “These new degree programs capitalize on our world-class faculty and cutting edge research laboratories and technology. Graduates from these programs will define their fields for decades.”

The new Ph.D. program in geospatial and environmental analysis will combine cutting-edge training and research in the theory and application of geospatial science with environmental analysis to enhance research on a broad range of contemporary natural resource and environmental issues.

“This will be the first interdisciplinary graduate program to focus geospatial analysis on environmental issues,” said Lawrence Grossman, professor and head of the Department of Geography. “This will distinguish Virginia Tech as an innovator in this application of geospatial science and analysis.”

The Ph.D. in rhetoric and writing will encourage students and faculty to pose new questions and generate unique knowledge regarding how we make and communicate meaning.

“This new degree program is illustrative of how English departments are evolving from the traditional study of literature to include the study of language and rhetoric today, and to help society, for example, take complex technical information [and make it] usable to ordinary people” said Carolyn Rude, professor of English.

In existence for 30 years, the Ph.D. program in environmental design and planning program has grown over the years in terms of enrollment and in the number of student specializations. The two new degree programs that will emerge from this program—architecture and design research and planning, governance, and globalization will result in innovative interdisciplinary academic opportunities for faculty and students and strengthen the university’s capabilities in the applied social sciences.

“The advantage of creating these two degree programs is the clarity they give in the recruitment and placement of our students,” said John Randolph, professor and director of the School of Public and International Affairs. “It will help us attract the very best graduate students in these fields, and students will be able to complete this program based either in Blacksburg or at the National Capital Region.”

The new Bachelor of Arts in humanities, science, and environment will offer undergraduate students with the opportunity to understand the role of science and technology in shaping the interaction between people and environment.

Following the approval of these new academic programs from the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, they will be forwarded to the State Council of Higher Education for review and final approval.