Virginia Tech is making notable progress toward President Tim Sands' milestone to be recognized among the top 13 U.S. public land-grant universities by 2024.

Tech has moved up a level, from 251-300 to 201-250, in the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Among U.S. public land-grant universities, it moved from 20th in 2017 and 2018 to 18th in 2019 and 15th in 2020, tied with two other universities.

The advance reflects the first fruits of the numerous projects that make up the president’s Beyond Boundaries vision for Virginia Tech. That vision was later incorporated  into the university's strategic plan.

Sands said that the Beyond Boundaries process, shared by the university community, is leading to greater visibility for Virginia Tech. He explained that initiatives, such as the emphasis on transdisciplinary learning, embodied by the Destination Areas focused on solving global-scale societal problems; the strategy and commitment to expand Virginia Tech’s footprint in the D.C. area and prepare for efforts like the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and the Innovation Campus; the hard work of university faculty in advancing the global recognition of Virginia Tech's scholarship; and structuring innovative educational programs that are attracting more industry partners to campus, are all paying off.

“Virginia Tech is committed to tackling the world's most challenging problems through research, education, and a commitment to service," Sands said. “The initiatives that we developed and launched with former Provost Thanassis Rikakis have continued under current Provost Cyril Clarke and are beginning to pay dividends. We build on our momentum as Hokies continue to take on real-world challenges and fulfill the university motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve.)”

Sands explained that becoming a top global institution will help Virginia Tech attract the faculty, staff, student, and partner talent that the university needs to fulfill its mission as a land-grant university. By bringing the rest of the world and its opportunities to the people of Virginia — and vice versa — Virginia Tech can deliver the highest level of positive impact on humanity.

Added Provost Clarke, “We're taking a more active role in the Commonwealth of Virginia, whether through our support around the Innovation Campus in the D.C. area, our investment into growing biosciences education and research in Roanoke, or our contributions to life for millions who benefit from research advancements and outreach.”

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings lean heavily on research but incorporate a comprehensive set of factors that include citations, reputation, learning environment, international outlook, and income.

Virginia Tech also advanced in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education U.S. College Rankings, where it went up within two of the four pillars used to determine a score: resources, or the capacity to effectively deliver teaching, as well as environment, or a good learning environment. Tech rose as well in other rankings that variously incorporate student outcomes, faculty achievement, academic and employer surveys, and other metrics.

— Written by Mason Adams