The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors on Monday approved a plan to create the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which will increase the visibility, opportunities, and impact of the college’s learning, discovery, and engagement programs.

The plan will now go before the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for final approval.

“The proposed School of Plant and Environmental Sciences is an exciting opportunity for our college to build upon the unique strengths of our programs while coming together to create a cohesive approach to solve some of our world’s biggest challenges,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The school would combine the departments of Crop and Soil Environmental SciencesHorticulture; and Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science under one roof that will allow the college to make new investments to increase capacity and tackle the many challenges in agriculture and food security, the green industry, plant biology, and the environment.

This interdisciplinary approach will benefit students and faculty members who are tackling complex issues that span the globe.

 It will allow students to have wider access to programs that prepare them for emerging careers in the plant and environmental sciences. It will foster more collaboration between faculty, which will bring increased research and funding opportunities.

It also consolidates operations for greater use of resources, which reduces administrative burdens on faculty and allows them to focus on scholarly activities while still retaining current staff.

The new school will allow for expanded and stronger partnerships among industry, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station.

Current students enrolled in existing majors will not be impacted by the formation of the school, but new majors within the college may be developed in the future. Current clubs and student groups will remain as they are now.

A school is an academic unit within a college that has a central administration, combined resources, and a shared goal and identity that unites it. There are often unique sections or divisions within it.

Other examples at Virginia Tech include the School of Performing Arts, the School of Education, and the School of Architecture + Design. The new school would serve as a tenure home for faculty members in the three departments involved.