The presidential search committee, along with the board of visitors, showed interest in the opinions of undergraduate students in a forum on Monday.
Students representing all aspects of life met in in Squires Commonwealth Ballroom from 4 to 6 p.m. to discuss qualities of an ideal president, the future of Virginia Tech and what makes Tech unique.
The forum was divided into several round table discussions facilitated by members and volunteers of the committee.
Later there was a large-scale discussion facilitated by the chair of the presidential search committee, George Nolen.
Among suggestions for the advancement of the university, students spoke about increasing focus on underrepresented academic programs.
“Our humanities and social sciences are left at the wayside,” said a history and political science major publicly. “I think the president needs to celebrate diversity in education and the differences between individuals and what they excel at academically.”
Technological prowess was mentioned several times as an important skill for the incoming president, and the expectation of their social media presence was emphasized in the forum.
Aerospace engineering major, Emoke Toth, spoke on the effect of a professor’s interest in teaching.
“It’s not the technology that’s most important in the classroom, it’s the professor,” said Toth. “We would like to see more emphasis on getting professors that are … passionate about teaching — they’re not here to do research. They make or break the class.”
The quality of professors was a popular topic among students in the forum.
“I’d prefer having a professor who is … passionate about teaching me what I need to know to be successful in life and in my career,” Toth said.
Toth also advocated for increased availability of financial aid, both merit and need-based, which was received with applause from the students.
Tech is not the only university searching for a new president. Ohio State, Texas A&M and Clemson are among the schools competing for the most qualified, passionate and innovative individuals to lead their institutions.
The forum for undergraduate students followed an earlier session for retired faculty and staff of the school. The committee will also hold a forum for graduate students in the Graduate Life Center on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.