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Outreach and International Affairs

Virginia Tech’s outreach/engagement division evolved from the university’s extension services and initially was called the Division of Public Service. In 1988 John M. Perry, interim executive vice president and provost, created a Committee on Evaluation of Faculty Efforts in Extension and Public Service, chaired by J. Douglas McAlister, to recommend improved modes of evaluation and measures to determine the effectiveness of extension and public service activities that should be used throughout the university. Among its conclusions, the committee recommended that service “be perceived as an important mission of this university,” that the university community “find useful operational definitions of service to include public service as well as university and professional service,” and that the affirmation of the importance of service and the definitions of service “

In February 1990 President James D. McComas, responding to the committee’s report and to a national movement, placed renewed emphasis on the university’s public service (extension) mission by appointing Charles W. Steger Jr., then dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, to also serve as interim vice president for public service. Steger began the arduous task of organizing the various public service-related components on campus into a cohesive public service group and organized a Division of Public Service. Included in the new division were two programs that had existed, at least in part, in extension: Division of Continuing Education (see below) and Public Service Programs (see below).

In 1993, however, administrators decided to place public service under the purview of the provost and to combine public service with international programs under a vice provost. By then the term public service had gone out of favor nationwide, and universities had begun to call these services “outreach.” Hence, Virginia Tech hired its first vice provost for outreach and international programs, Patrick R. Liverpool, in 1993.

In 1996 the university separated the two operations. Liverpool continued to head international programs, and Dixon Hanna was appointed interim vice provost for outreach and economic development. The Office of University Relations entered the outreach picture by initiating a public policy magazine, Virginia Issues & Answers, in 1994. The magazine, funded jointly by University Relations and the Office of the Vice Provost for Outreach until 2002-03 and then by University Relations alone, is distributed principally to state and local public policymakers as an outreach service of Virginia Tech. 

In 1999 C. Clark Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, was named vice provost for outreach. John Dooley took over the division in 2003, and under his leadership, outreach was reorganized and new departments were added. In the reorganization, the name was changed to Outreach and International Affairs (OIA), which now includes the Office of International Research, Education, and Development; Center for European Studies and Architecture; The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center; Office of Economic Development; English Language Institute; Outreach Program Development; Reynolds Homestead; Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships; The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center; Upward Bound/Talent Search; and the Commonwealth Campus Centers, which include the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Center; Virginia Tech Richmond Center, and Virginia Tech Roanoke Center. OIA also oversees Tech’s role in the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, part of an economic development effort in the Danville region of the state.