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New program to highlight enrichment opportunities for students

January 25, 2017

Monica Kimbrell
Monica Kimbrell will lead the Office for VT-Shaped Learning in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has launched the university’s first Office for VT-Shaped Learning. The program is intended to help undergraduates excel academically through disciplinary depth, interdisciplinary capacities, experiential learning, and a strong humanistic perspective.

“VT-shaped learning is an expansion of the notion of the T-shaped student, which traditionally describes depth and breadth,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the college. “With VT-shaped students, disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary capacities are enhanced by intentional learning opportunities, which prepare students to solve complex global problems while remaining adaptable, resilient, and culturally competent. Elements of the university’s motto — Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) — are also incorporated, in the land-grant tradition of serving society.”

Spiller introduced the concept of the VT-shaped student in a 2015 essay on the liberal arts education. “To create these kinds of learners, it may be useful to remember that, alongside invention, we need to find both inspiration and imagination,” she wrote. “The greatest of land-grant institutions continue to integrate practical and liberal education, and they do so because technology never works without people as part of the equation, because innovation is fundamentally a human pursuit.”

The Office for VT-Shaped Learning will help define the “V” for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. The center will lead the expansion and enhancement of opportunities for undergraduate research, study abroad, and career development, including a strong focus on internships and field studies.

Monica Kimbrell, who oversees recruitment and career development for the college, has been named assistant dean of the program.

“The concept of VT-shaped learning is more than a philosophy of education; it’s the very foundation of our college,” said Kimbrell, who holds both a bachelor’s and a doctorate in human development from Virginia Tech. “With this center, we’re aiming for a holistic experience for our students. We want them to be able to take advantage of all the riches available to them, to help them build the careers — and the lives — that will allow them to flourish.”

The office will support students throughout their academic journey, from recruitment to placement, with Kimbrell continuing to oversee recuitment initiatives.

The new program’s integrated approach will offer a framework for helping students explore their options creatively, to realize their full potential, Spiller said. “We want our students to be able to think from art to science as Galileo did, and from science to art as Leonardo da Vinci did.”    

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