Van Crowder has been named executive director of the Office of International Research, Education, and Development. The office, with its research portfolio of $114 million, oversees a significant portion of the university's international research.
Crowder has more than 25 years of experience with international development projects, most recently as a senior director at the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington, D.C., where he managed an $800 million portfolio of education, health, and community development projects. He will assume his responsibilities Aug. 10.
Crowder's previously held positions at the Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations in Rome include serving as the country representative in Nicaragua and as senior communications officer for development.
The many facets of his career in development include helping farmers in Bolivia find alternatives to growing coca for illicit purposes, managing a watershed project in Jamaica, and evaluating education programs at a university in Yemen. His consultant work includes stints across Central and Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
As director of the Virginia Tech office charged with managing donor-funded projects in developing countries, Crowder's responsibilities will include overseeing projects, securing and diversifying funding opportunities, and engaging more faculty in the development of international research. Programs include the following:
- The Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab
- Education and Research in Agriculture in Senegal
- Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education
- Women and Gender in International Development
"Van Crowder's appointment represents a commitment on the part of Virginia Tech to advancing international research," said Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. "In supporting this position, Virginia Tech expands its engagement in helping solve the enduring issues of our time – sustainability, food security, preserving biodiversity, promoting gender equality. For the university of the 21st century, being international is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity."
Crowder earned his bachelor's degree in agriculture and life sciences and Master of Professional Studies in communication from Cornell University, as well as a Ph.D. in adult and continuing education, also from Cornell. He speaks fluent Spanish.
Crowder succeeds interim director Keith Moore, who took over after the retirement of Mike Bertelsen in December 2014.
The Office of International Research, Education, and Development works to raise the standard of living in developing countries through projects on integrated pest and natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, capacity-building in education, and small business development. Most of these ventures are funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The office, part of Outreach and International Affairs, partners with 80 universities and institutions around the world.
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.