Lisa Wilkes, who previously served as vice president for business affairs and special assistant to the president, has been named vice president for strategic initiatives and special assistant to the president at Virginia Tech.

In this new position, Wilkes works to advance strategic presidential initiatives and address issues that impact the institution across the complex university landscape. She also serves as the surrogate for the president, providing direction to carry out the president’s vision, goals, and priorities.

“I have been fortunate to work closely with Dr. Wilkes over the past 15 months in her role as special assistant to the president,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “There is no challenge too great for Lisa. In addition to her expertise in higher education business practices, she brings a deep understanding of Virginia Tech’s people, values, culture, and operations, knowledge that allows her to bring people together to solve problems that transcend organizational boundaries.”

Wilkes’ vast administrative and operational leadership provides a unique and important skill set for this critical position. She has the reputation for not shying away from challenges, embracing opportunities, and delivering results.

Transformational leadership best describes much of her work. Wilkes led the Human Resources Transformation Initiative that laid the foundation for the future of Virginia Tech’s HR programs and services. Over the past two years, she has led programs to advance the university’s culture of excellence, including the Campus Accessibility Working Group and the Child Care Working Group. She has been instrumental in highlighting the need for the university to have a focused change management and process redesign framework.

Over the past year, in addition to her vice president for business affairs portfolio, Wilkes has served as special assistant to the President, leading the Office of the President’s operations and serving as part of the leadership team managing the university’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue my work with President Sands and this outstanding team,” Wilkes said. “During my 26-year career at Virginia Tech, I have been fortunate to work with many great students, staff, and faculty; gain a deeper appreciation for the spirit of Virginia Tech; and experience the resiliency and dedication of the university community. I’m excited about this new opportunity to advance President Sands’ vision for higher education and continue to serve the Virginia Tech community.”

The vice president for strategic initiatives is a member of the university’s senior leadership team, collaborating with the president to prioritize and manage initiatives, champion change, and monitor progress.

“Lisa’s recent work to improve childcare at Virginia Tech and advance campus accessibility demonstrates her ability to effectively engage campus stakeholders around complex issues that touch the entire university community,” said Virginia Tech Provost Cyril Clarke. “I look forward to collaborating with her to support and advance the university’s academic experience.”

Wilkes’ role includes providing thoughtful and intentional leadership for presidential priorities and initiatives that advance the Beyond Boundaries Vision, as well as addressing university challenges, evaluating potential opportunities, and removing barriers to institutional effectiveness.

“Lisa combines visionary and strategic thinking with strong experience in implementation,” said Virginia Tech Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Dwayne Pinkney. “She can advance the vision while also navigating real world challenges in order to make it a reality, a rare skill set for a leader.”

Wilkes will also continue in her role as special assistant to the president, serving as the chief administrative officer of the Office of the President, managing presidential operations in support of university priorities. She will continue to engage with the president’s leadership team, president’s council, and president’s advisory group, as well as the broader campus community.

“Continuous strategic planning requires a strong team that can work effectively with a wide variety of constituencies, including leadership, faculty, staff, students, administrators, and university partners and stakeholders,” said Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke. “Lisa’s experience and ability to work across the university’s organizational landscape will be a great asset, in collaboration with the Office for Strategic Affairs, as we advance Virginia Tech’s strategic vision.”

A native of Pulaski, Virginia, Wilkes began her career at Virginia Tech as a graduate student intern in 1995 and then served as chief of staff for the chief operating officer before moving on to serve as assistant vice president for finance, assistant vice president for business services, associate vice president for administration, interim vice president for human resources, and vice president for business affairs. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Radford University, and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Virginia Tech.