A university-wide Research Division was established by the 1966 General Assembly (effective July 1), combining the research activities of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Engineering Experiment Station under the division. Work of the division has evolved so that today it supports the university research community, fosters quality research, encourages and directs inquiry into new and emerging fields, promotes solutions to problems and advances basic knowledge in diverse disciplines and through interdisciplinary cooperation, ensures compliance with policies and procedures, markets faculty talent and university capabilities, and transfers research results throughout the world. From the mid-1980s to the late-1990s, Virginia Tech ranked among the nation’s top 50 universities based on research expenditures. In 2007, the university reached 42nd in the nation in research expenditures but dropped to 46th in 2009, even though research expenditures increased. Partnerships with other universities and with large businesses, started in the 2000s, were expected to lead to more funding and, thus, greater research expenditures.
The Research Division was headed by a dean from 1966 until 1990 and beginning in 1990 by a vice provost for research. The title was changed to vice president for research in 2004. Deans: William B. Harrison (1966-70); Randall M. Robertson (1970-76); Wolter J. Fabrycky (1976-81); David P. Roselle (1981-83); Gary R. Hooper (1984-90). Vice provosts: Gary R. Hooper (1990-92); Leonard K. Peters (1993-2003); James B. Blair (interim, 2002-2004). Vice presidents: Bradley W. Fenwick (2004-07); Robert Walters (2007- ).
From 1983-2002, the dean of the Graduate School also served as dean of research or, after the title was changed in 1990, vice provost for research. A separate position was created to head the Graduate School in 2002. Division heads with the dual title: Gary R. Hooper (1984-92); Leonard K. Peters (1993-2002). In 1992-93 Ernest R. Stout served as acting vice provost for research, and John L. Eaton was acting dean of the Graduate School.