James S. Bridgeforth has been named assistant vice president for student affairs and ExperienceVT at Virginia Tech. He will begin his new role Oct. 7, 2020.

The position was created to further the aims of ExperienceVT, a Student Affairs initiative that invites all  students to understand, practice, and apply the Aspirations for Student Learning through student-selected experiences inside and outside the classroom. As part of this process, students are asked to set meaningful goals and adopt a variety of experiences that build momentum toward accomplishing their goals. Student Affairs, in partnership with faculty, collaborates with students to translate how these experiences inform their next steps.

“Fundamentally, ExperienceVT is an initiative to build hope in our students. Hope, as researchers have discovered, requires that we have clear goals, that we see pathways toward reaching them, and that we have a sense of agency to influence their achievement,” said Frank Shushok Jr., vice president for student affairs. “ExperienceVT provides students with the tools they need to make the most of their time at Virginia Tech. Strong leadership ensures that Virginia Tech is empowering students to learn and innovate in a way that is beyond boundaries.”

In addition to leading ExperienceVT, Bridgeforth will serve as lead advisor to the Student Government Association and will supervise the Cranwell International Center, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Learning Partnerships, and VT Engage: The Center for Leadership and Service Learning. Additionally, in partnership with Ted Faulkner, assistant vice president for housing, dining, and student centers, Bridgeforth will share supervision for Student Engagement and Campus Life.

“We look forward to Dr. Bridgeforth’s leadership as we continue to focus on student wellbeing and success and the creation of meaningful partnerships with academic units, community organizations, and Virginia Tech campuses in Roanoke and the greater Washington, D.C., metro area,” said Shushok. “He has demonstrated commitment to student success, learning, inclusion, and our land-grant spirit.”

“As a first-generation college student who grew up in southern rural Virginia, I learned that the college experience can transform a person's life in ways they may never have imagined by providing access and avenues to a better quality of life,” said Bridgeforth. “It is my goal to help everyone achieve their dreams, and the college experience can be the greatest springboard for one's success. I am excited to meet as many students as I can and learn how we can partner with them on their journey.” 

Bridgeforth comes to Virginia Tech from the University of South Alabama where he is director of university housing and graduate faculty Instructor in higher education administration. He brings more than 17 years of experience working in higher education, including at public universities, private colleges, HBCUs, and land-grant institutions. He has extensive experience working with college students and collaborating with both academics and student affairs to champion the student experience.

Bridgeforth earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration and institutional research from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a B.A. in sociology from Catawba College.

“I was attracted to the innovative approach this position champions as well as by the character of Virginia Tech and the institution's motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” said Bridgeforth. “I love the idea that Virginia Tech is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition and that is something I've always wanted to be a part of.”