On Dec. 6, university officials confirmed that Timothy Sands of Purdue University is taking over for Charles Steger as 16th President of Virginia Tech. Sands was formerly the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs of Purdue, and also filled in as acting president from June 2012 to January 2013.
Speaking both to the candid speech and Q&A he participated in after the announcement, along with his curriculum vitae in academia, this editorial board is in support of Tech’s decision to approve Sands and eager for the commencement of his presidency.
Prior to taking on an administrative position at Purdue, Sands was a teacher. From 1993 until 2002, he was a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California-Berkeley. He then joined Purdue to take over as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering for the schools of materials, electrical and computer engineering, and even went on to be Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue before becoming provost in 2010.
It is not simply Sands’ experience in engineering fields that make him a strong choice as Tech’s next president. It is that he was first and foremost a professor, and therefore has specific experience in the field that is paramount to Tech’s success.
Additionally, Sands is only 55, which bodes well for the potential longevity of his presidency. If he is to oversee continual development and growth of the university on a long timeline, it is advantageous to have someone relatively young in office.
But one of the most promising aspects of Sands’ selection comes from his response to a question asked by the Collegiate Times. When asked how he would connect to his student body on a personal level, Sands responded that students could expect to see him and his wife in the dining halls soon.
In a time where administrative transparency is more important than ever, it will be both refreshing and essential to have a president who is ready to engage with his students person-to-person, on a face-to-face basis.