David R. Ford of Blacksburg, Va., will retire Jan. 1, 2009, from his position as vice president and dean of undergraduate education after more than two decades of service to Virginia Tech.
Under Ford's leadership and committed collaboration with college deans and the Division of Student Affairs, undergraduate enrollments have grown, the University Honors Program has expanded, academic advising has strengthened, and the VT Pathways to Learning program has been successfully launched to guide students throughout their undergraduate career. Through Ford's vision of serving students and faculty, Virginia Tech has received numerous awards for student support programs that enhance the undergraduate experience.
Ford, who says he had aspirations in 1961 of becoming a vocational agriculture teacher and part-time farmer has found that being an administrator for much of his professional career to be gratifying. Ford notes that although he doesn't have a list of personal accolades his career has been most rewarding because of his position to facilitate and to offer the resources needed so that others could have the opportunity to do something important and make a difference in higher education. Ford says, "I've enjoyed watching others receive recognition or start new endeavors to engage our students."
University Provost Mark McNamee said, "David Ford is an extraordinary leader who has earned the respect and admiration of faculty, staff, and students. He is fair, firm, and fully committed to excellence at Virginia Tech. We will miss him."
Ford, a native of Indiana, attended Purdue University, earning his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and Ph.D. from there. In 1978, Ford joined Virginia Tech as assistant dean and director of resident instruction in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Ford says, "I had no idea where Virginia Tech was, but I visited and the rest they say, is history." Until 1990, Ford served in other positions within the university before heading back to Indiana to serve as vice president for instructional services and dean of faculty at Vincennes University for eight years. In 1998, then-provost Peggy Meszaros visited Ford in Indiana and asked him to return to Virginia. In 1998, Ford was named vice provost for academic affairs at Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said, "Coming from Indiana, David may have never anticipated becoming a senior administrator at a Virginia university, but he has played a significant role in strengthening the undergraduate experience for thousands of Virginia Tech students -- past, present, and future. His commitment to his principles and to this university and its people is recognized and admired by all who know him. We are extremely grateful for his steady leadership and all his contributions over the course of his distinguished career at Virginia Tech."
Although Ford is retiring from his active career in higher education, he says he has no plans of slowing down. "There are a lot of things in the job jar I'd still like to do," Ford says.
Currently a search for the position is underway and three candidates from a strong applicant pool have visited campus. To learn more about each of the candidates visit the Office of the Provost online.