Leaders at Virginia Tech announced Tuesday that aerospace giant Boeing is the first foundational partner for the university’s new Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia, following a $50 million donation.
The new graduate campus, which is scheduled to be completed in 2024 in Alexandria, Virginia, is part of a 65-acre, mixed-use district plan developed by Lionstone and JBG SMITH. At an announcement event on Tuesday, Lance Collins, a university vice president and the executive director of the new campus, said that the donation will accelerate the university’s plans, allowing it to offer scholarships and hire faculty years ahead of schedule. The gift is the largest ever made to the school, and representatives said it will help jumpstart plans to be the most diverse graduate technology campus in the US.
The new campus and funding will have a laser focus on addressing the need for diverse tech talent in the state and nationally, Collins said.
“Our vision is to be both a place and culture that unlocks the power of diverse people and ideas to solve the world’s most pressing problems through technology,” Collins said during the event.
Speakers at the announcement also included Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, Boeing CEO David Calhoun and Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Vice Rector Letitia Long.
The funding from Boeing will be used for a myriad of financial aid programs, including scholarships to attract and retain master’s students, and for potential students looking to complete prerequisite courses for future admission into the Innovation Campus. It will also mean fellowships for doctorate students, all of which are intended to support diversity on campus.
Non-scholarship applications of the donation will include a new student success center, technology leadership programs, strategic learning research projects, additional programs for non-traditional undergrads hoping to enroll in the Innovation Campus and data-driven recruitment with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Virginia Tech will also use the funding to develop a K-12 engagement program and hire a program director.
Following the success of this donation, Boeing’s Calhoun said the company hopes to donate to the campus again in the future.
“We want to get in on the foundation and we want to leverage everything the State of Virginia has done to accommodate and to promote under-represented populations across the state, and in this particular region, and give them opportunities,” Calhoun said.
Virginia Tech largely accredits the ability to build the campus to the heavy investment in the area from Amazon HQ2. The university’s new campus will be in very close proximity to the ecommerce giant’s second headquarters, Washington National Airport and the Potomac Yard Metro Station, which is expected to open next spring.
“This is sort of the one of those moments where a whole bunch of really good leaders looking after their particular constituencies and thinking about the future laid out visions for themselves, and every now and then these visions meet,” Calhoun said. “A big thanks to Amazon, because it put a target on all those visions. It allowed everyone to come together with an immediate need.”
Governor Northam added that Virginia has seen $42 billion of capital investment in the last three-and-a-half years.
“Businesses need a talented workforce, and so all that we can do to invest in education and to make sure that pipeline exists between our education system and workforce — that’s what keeps our businesses growing and it’s what keeps our economy growing in Virginia,” Northam said at the event.
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