Being a Land-Grant university, Virginia Tech has myriad of faculty, staff, students, and resources actively working with local, regional, and statewide partners to promote shared prosperity across the Commonwealth. These engagement activities include applied research, project, studio classes, undergrad and graduate class projects, technical assistance and so much more. The exact scope or number of activities is hard to track, considering the size of the institution; however, one of the many benefits of coordinating Vibrant Virginia (VV) is getting to conduct an inventory on the faculty, staff and students who are interested in an engagement initiative.

Through emails, surveys, and participation in VV events, I was able to glean a substantial list of over 350 university researchers and practitioners interested in the VV program. The below graphic provides a sense of the diversity of expertise represented in this list and shows the breakdown (relative size of number of individuals) of university colleges and other divisions we were able to identify*.

* Abbreviations: CALS – College Agriculture and Life Sciences; CAUS – College of Architecture and Urban Studies; COE – College of Engineering; CLAHS – College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; CNRE – College of Natural Resources and Environment; PCOB – Pamplin College of Business; COE – College of Science; VMCVM – Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; OIA – Outreach and International Affairs

One takeaway the program has heard from discussions with this community is the need for a space to allow university engagement professionals to learn and connect with fellow colleagues conducting similar work across different disciplines. This led to the creations of a series entitled Vibrant Virginia Campus Conversations.

The first conversations brought a together the community with representatives from several external statewide economic development programs including the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Go Virginia and Building Entrepreneurial Economics, and the USDA Rural Business Development. These external practitioners presented their work and the conversation turned towards the possibility of the VV community getting involved with some of these programs.

The second installment of the Campus Conversations was part program update and part storytelling (see the agenda). Several university engagement faculty shared a story – alongside their community partners – on how this particular partnership has grown over time. Stories were shared from the Institute for Policy and Governance and Total Action for Progress (TAP’s website), and OED and the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board.

This component of VV changes with each conversation, and we are hoping to host another one at the beginning of the spring semester. If you would like to join or have an idea for the next campus conversation, please sign-up for the program here.