Proven Virginia Tech leader tapped for key Innovation Campus leadership role
October 13, 2020
Ken Smith, Virginia Tech’s vice provost for academic resource management, has been selected to serve as the first chief operating officer of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. His appointment is effective Oct. 25.
In his new role, Smith will work closely with inaugural Vice President and Executive Director Lance Collins to launch the Innovation Campus in Alexandria and develop it as the epicenter of Virginia Tech’s long-standing and growing footprint in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.
“We are in start-up mode and in just a few weeks of working with him it became clear to me that Ken is the ideal person to take on this important role,” Collins said. “His strong connection to our campus in Blacksburg, his understanding of the tech talent needs of the Commonwealth and his deep knowledge of our operations here in the D.C. region offer a great complement to my experiences at Cornell and Cornell Tech. His experience with budget modeling, space planning and supporting the development of new academic programs will be invaluable as we design programming spaces for our new campus and continue to hire world-class faculty.”
Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke said Smith’s experience makes him the right person for this new role.
“Throughout his tenure in the Provost’s Office, Ken has distinguished himself as a valued member of my leadership team and a committed advocate for our academic community,” Clarke said. “He has done a remarkable job of assessing and directing critical university resources to serve the needs of faculty and programs and enhancing the educational opportunities and experiences we provide for our students. His knowledge and experience are perfectly suited for the Innovation Campus and the role it will play in achieving our strategic goals and Beyond Boundaries vision. I am grateful for Ken’s dedicated service and leadership of our academic resource management division, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him in this new role.”
As chief operating officer, Smith will coordinate the opening and operation of the new campus. Smith said the opportunity to help build a new campus from the ground up attracted him to the new position.
“The Innovation Campus is going to ignite the regional technology ecosystem and advance national competitiveness for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our success in the region will also increase Virginia Tech’s national and global recognition,” Smith said. “It is exciting to me to have this new opportunity to focus on helping Lance Collins turn his vision for a dynamic new campus into real, innovative programs, spaces and services.”
Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus will anchor a 65-acre innovation district that JBG SMITH is developing in Potomac Yard, building a foundation for a stronger tech talent pipeline for the region and fostering Virginia Tech’s ability to collaborate with industry and surrounding federal agencies.
Construction of the first academic building is on track to start next year and open in August 2024. Within a decade, Virginia Tech expects to have up to 750 master’s degree students enrolled at the Innovation Campus, along with hundreds more doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
Collins came to Virginia Tech from Cornell University where he spent a decade as dean of the College of Engineering and helped to launch Cornell Tech in New York City. He started at Virginia Tech in August, just a few days before the first Innovation Campus Class started its fall semester.
Innovation Campus classes are online this semester due to the pandemic. Faculty offices and course instruction for the Innovation Campus students will operate out of Virginia Tech’s existing location in Falls Church while the new campus is being built in Alexandria.
Smith has been at Virginia Tech for 23 years, most recently as vice provost for academic resource management since January 2013. As vice provost, Smith provided institutional leadership for budgeting, capital outlay planning, space management, performance data, and continuous improvement processes for the academic programs. He also led efforts to implement a performance-based budget system for academic programs and to improve national and global rankings.
Prior to his appointment as vice provost, Smith served as associate provost overseeing the budgetary and fiscal operations of the academic support units. Before coming to the provost’s office, Smith served as assistant director for budget operations in the Virginia Tech Office of Budget and Financial Planning and as a budget analyst in the Commerce, Resources and Trade section of the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget. He began his career as a budget analyst in the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Smith holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech. He earned both a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University.