Ten weeks into his time as president of Virginia Tech, Timothy D. Sands and his wife, Laura P. Sands, packed their bags and headed to Hokie Camp, just like hundreds of other new Hokies.

“It’s a good way for me to understand just what our students are experiencing,” Timothy Sands said. “The more I can understand the student experience, the more I can help it along and be strategic in what I try to move forward.”

The new president said he thoroughly enjoys interaction with the undergraduate population. “That’s why we’re here. That’s a core mission of the university,” Sands said. “We’ve got to connect.”

He’s working on plans to improve the Virginia Tech student experience and has identified three priorities:

  • Increasing opportunities for undergraduate research, especially as it helps students think critically about problems, organize their thoughts, and present their ideas in a convincing way
  • Increasing access to internships as “something that is and will become one of the most valuable parts of the academic experience”
  • Increasing opportunities to study abroad because every student should “have an experience that connects them globally on campus”

In the weeks ahead, Sands said he looks forward to having even more visibility among students. “I plan on having fairly regular meals in the dining centers. I plan on participating in as many student-related engagements as possible,” he said. “Preparing the next generation is fundamental to our mission, and we need to be paying attention to what students are saying.” 

He said he also wants his communication with students to be two-way. He said he wants students to be aware of where the university is headed and to take a role in shaping that process.

During Sands experiences with students, he said he saw them practicing the university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). “I am very impressed with the degree to which students have a positive attitude and take Ut Prosim seriously. It’s a very community-oriented group. They care about the people around them.

“Many of the students I talk to say they are preparing themselves to serve humanity in the future, and they want that to be at the highest level possible,” he said.    

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.