Leanna Blevins, Virginia Tech’s assistant vice president for health sciences education, has assumed an expanded role to coordinate student support services at the health sciences and technology campus in Roanoke. 

“Dr. Blevins has worked to create inclusive and collaborative academic programs and has become a liaison for graduate students and undergraduates seeking support on a wide range of topics,” said Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech vice president for health sciences and technology. “We are striving for a caring environment that is mindful of the physical, emotional, and educational needs of our students. This has been a very natural and planned progression — Dr. Blevins has worked in this direction since her arrival at Virginia Tech.”

To better reflect her portfolio in Virginia Tech’s Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology, Blevins’ title will change to assistant vice president for health sciences education and student affairs.

“No matter their affiliation, students have universal needs, and we want to help them on the road to success,” added Friedlander.

The change is being made in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

The goal is to enrich the inclusive academic and professional environment on campus and is in keeping with the Transformative Graduate Education Initiative developed by Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw.

“A truly innovative graduate education experience requires a strong, diverse, and inclusive community that pushes the boundaries of traditional disciplinary academic education,” DePauw said. “We are fortunate to have Dr. Blevins working to remove obstacles and help students thrive in Roanoke.”

Educational programming in Roanoke blends traditional academics with hands-on clinical and laboratory research experience for graduate and medical students, and programs have expanded include undergraduate experiential learning opportunities.

“Our current student affairs team, led by Senior Dean for Student Affairs Aubrey Knight, looks forward to coordinating efforts with Dr. Blevins in her expanded role for the Roanoke campus,” said Lee Learman, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

The Virginia Tech Carilion Health Sciences and Technology Campus includes graduate students from the Translational Biology, Medicine and Health Program as well as from six other Virginia Tech graduate programs from the College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and College of Liberal Arts and Human Studies, as well as medical students with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and undergraduate and high school students who participate in experiential learning.   

“Building upon the good work already being done in Roanoke, I look forward to reinforcing connections across the university to improve the student experience,” Blevins said. “The collective efforts and partnerships will serve to strengthen our outstanding academic and research programs and prepare for future growth.”

Blevins joined Virginia Tech in July 2019, after spending the past 15 years helping to establish the New College Institute, a collaborative model of postsecondary education for rural Southern Virginia.

“Since her arrival to Virginia Tech, Dr. Blevins has proven to be a terrific student advocate and forward-thinking partner, especially in our efforts to nurture a culture well-being for students,” said Frank Shushok, vice president for student affairs. “Having Dr. Blevins’ leadership for Student Affairs in Roanoke is welcome and encouraging news.”

Blevins also helps manage Virginia Tech’s participation in a $23 million Clinical Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) granted by the National Institutes for Health. This statewide collaboration, called the integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, is a partnership between Virginia Tech, Carilion Clinic, the University of Virginia, and Inova Health System. Through the CTSA, Blevins and Friedlander are building out a new scholars program designed to support early career researchers develop successful careers in clinical or translational research.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a doctoral degree in higher education policy from the University of Virginia, and has 25 years of professional experience in higher education. Her research and work focused on engaging rural and underserved communities and improving access to both higher education and health care. In addition, Blevins has served in various leadership capacities on state and national boards.