Board of visitors appoints Timothy D. Sands as next president of Virginia Tech
December 6, 2013
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors today appointed Timothy D. Sands as Virginia Tech’s 16th president, effective June 1, 2014. Sands will succeed Charles Steger, who steps down when Sands assumes office.
Mike Quillen, rector of the board said, “The search committee provided us with several powerfully strong candidates. Dr. Sands impressed many from the start and garnered even more support after our personal interviews. He has stellar academic credentials and administrative experience from some of the nation’s outstanding land-grant and public research universities. We were particularly impressed with Tim’s sense of the modern research university’s role in advancing American society and its economy.”
“I am delighted and honored to serve this great university,” said Sands. “There is so much here that Virginia and the nation needs. Virginia Tech truly embodies the 21st century land-grant university role. I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve a university that’s been on an upward trajectory over the last decade or more and is well positioned for even greater success. I share in the board’s optimism for the future.”
Sands, 55, currently serves as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Purdue University. He served as Purdue’s acting president during the fall semester of 2012. He currently holds the position of Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in Purdue’s School of Materials Engineering and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
As Purdue’s chief academic officer, Sands led efforts to elevate student success, resulting in the highest first-to-second year retention and four-year graduation rates in Purdue’s history. He initiated a move toward full-year utilization of facilities that will enhance opportunities for student internships while allowing students to maintain academic progress during the summer.
Sands also led the development of the university’s first comprehensive assessment of all degree-granting programs. This Academic Program Assessment is structured to support data-driven decisions for investment and reorganization.
Sands launched Purdue’s online teaching and learning platform known as Purdue NExT, a modular approach that emphasizes interactive learning for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate-level courses. NExT focuses on creating computation-rich and simulation-rich learning environments that cannot be duplicated in the traditional classroom setting.
After gaining his doctoral degree, Sands began his professional career in 1984 at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and later became an industry fellow at the lab doing advanced materials research. He spent nine years as a member of technical staff and as a research group director with Bell Communications Research, Inc. (Bellcore) in Red Bank, N.J.
He returned to his alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley, in 1993 as a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He later served Berkeley in leadership roles including executive committee chair of the Applied Science and Technology Graduate Group and the director of the Integrated Materials Laboratory.
He joined Purdue University in 2002 as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering and later became director of the university’s Birck Nanotechnology Center, an interdisciplinary center encompassing 12 academic disciplines. He became Purdue’s chief academic officer in 2010.
Sands holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics (1980) and master’s degree and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, all from the University of California, Berkeley.
He has published more than 250 papers and has been granted 16 patents in the areas of metal/semiconductor contacts, heteroepitaxy, thermoelectric materials, ferroelectric and piezoelectric materials and devices, semiconductor nanostructures, laser processing and heterogeneous integration.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Materials Research Society (MRS), and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
In 2001 he served as a visiting professor at the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center (IMEC) and the Faculty of Engineering of the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium.
Sands’ wife, Laura Sands, is the Katherine Birck Professor in the School of Nursing at Purdue. Her research focuses on optimizing care pathways for older adults. They have four children —Amanda, KC, and Kathryn, all of whom graduated from Purdue, and Haley, a junior at Purdue.
This appointment concludes a rigorous six-month long search chaired by former board rector George Nolen where 238 candidates were considered. The 22-person search committee represented a broad cross section of the extended university community including board members, students, staff, alumni, and 12 senior faculty members.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.