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The Leadership Behind This Endeavor

Tim Sands

Tim Sands

President of Virginia Tech

Timothy Sands is the 16th president of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, joining the university in June 2014. He also is a scientist, educator, and inventor, and he has dedicated much of his career to advancing the impact of research and innovation in public education. As president, he has engaged the university community in a visionary plan to advance Virginia Tech’s role as a global land-grant institution, confronting the commonwealth’s, the country’s, and the world’s most challenging problems.

Before coming to Virginia Tech, Sands served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He was acting president during the summer and fall of 2012.

Sands earned a bachelor's degree with highest honors in engineering physics and a master's degree and doctorate in materials science from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Purdue faculty in 2002 as the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in the schools of Materials Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prior to becoming provost, he served as the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

From 1993 to 2002, Sands was a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and before that, he performed research and directed research groups at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) in Red Bank, New Jersey. Throughout his career, he has participated in and led research teams and academic programs that have been characterized by open collaboration across a wide array of disciplines.

He has published more than 250 refereed papers and conference proceedings and has been granted 20 patents in electronic and optoelectronic materials and devices. He holds faculty appointments in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, with research interests in microelectronics, optoelectronics, and nanotechnology. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Materials Research Society, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Cyril Clarke

Cyril Clarke

Executive vice president and provost

A veterinarian, clinical pharmacologist, teacher, researcher, and academic leader, Cyril Clarke became executive vice president and provost of Virginia Tech on Jan. 1, 2019. A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Clarke earned his professional veterinary degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 1981 and a Ph.D. in veterinary pharmacology from Louisiana State University in 1987. He is certified as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology.

Clarke was a faculty member at Oklahoma State University from 1987 to 2007, where he also served as an academic department head and associate dean for academic affairs in the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. He obtained a master's degree in higher education from the university in 2000. Funded by corporate, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Institutes of Health, Clarke's research focused on the interactions between antibacterial agents, animal patients, and infectious microbes. Tissue distribution of antibacterial agents and pathogenesis of acute lung infections are particular areas of emphasis represented in his published scholarship. He is a recipient of the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence.

In 2007, Clarke was appointed to the position of Lois Bates Acheson Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. During his time as dean, Clarke continued to teach pharmacology to veterinary students. In addition to receiving a Certificate of Excellence in Teaching, Clarke was honored with the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association's President's Award. He subsequently joined Virginia Tech on Oct. 1, 2013, as dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Clarke has held leadership positions in several professional organizations, including the board of directors for the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges and past president of the American College of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He also is a past member of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board and the AVMA Council on Education, the accrediting agency for veterinary medical education in North America.

Dwayne Pinkney

Dwayne Pinkney

Senior vice president for Operations and Administration

Dwayne Pinkney brings 23 years of financial and administrative management in higher education and state legislative experience to Virginia Tech. He spent the past 14 years in progressively higher-level management positions at UNC-Chapel Hill. Pinkney started in his position as senior vice president for operations and administration in 2018. He oversees all aspects of the financial and operational enterprises of the university, including financial affairs, human resources, policy and governance, and planning and facilities management.

In his previous role as senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration, Pinkney served as the strategic advisor and principal deputy to the vice chancellor for finance and administration. He also provided oversight of the university’s financial, budget, and accounting operations and provided leadership for the division’s shared administrative and business services functions.

Prior to that position, he served as vice provost for finance and academic planning since 2010 and secretary of the university since 2014. He also served as the assistant vice chancellor for finance and administration and special assistant to the chancellor for state and local relations. In these roles, he was responsible for the student stores and trademarks licensing operations, was the campus’ primary liaison to the state legislature, and advised the chancellor and senior leadership on all matters related to state government affairs and local/municipal government.

Prior to serving at UNC-Chapel Hill, Pinkney was an associate vice president for finance at the University of North Carolina General Administration. He also has six years of experience as a fiscal analyst with the North Carolina General Assembly and served a short period of time as the deputy secretary for administration with the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State.

Pinkney received his Ph.D. in political science at UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Charlie Phlegar

Charlie Phlegar

Vice president for Advancement

Charles Phlegar serves as vice president for Advancement at Virginia Tech. He assumed this role in July 2015, and he is the first individual to hold this position, overseeing the integration of alumni relations, university relations, and university development. Phlegar grew up in Blacksburg. He received a bachelor of science degree in business management in 1978 and master of science degree in education administration in 1987, both from Virginia Tech.

Phlegar has made his mark at major university fundraising operations throughout his career. He came to Virginia Tech from Cornell University, where he served as vice president for alumni affairs and development and was chief fundraiser for the institution’s successful $6 billion campaign. While part of Cornell’s executive leadership team, Phlegar served on the investment committee managing $6.3 billion in assets. He was a member of the Cornell Tech Steering Committee that secured the winning bid to build a new campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, which attracted interest from universities around the world.

Prior to his time at Cornell, he held positions of senior associate vice president and interim vice president for development and alumni relations at The Johns Hopkins Institutions, where he organized and implemented a $3.5 billion campaign. Also, as vice president for development at the University of South Carolina, he launched the university’s first capital campaign. Beginning with a $200 million goal, it concluded at more than $500 million.

He was campaign director for East Carolina University’s capital campaign, and while working at Virginia Tech from 1983 to 1987, Phlegar was assistant director of athletics for sports marketing and assistant director of the alumni association overseeing chapter operations.

Phlegar has served on the board of directors for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), he was chair and founder of the CASE 50 Top 50 Fundraising Institutions in Higher Education, and he chaired the CASE 2014 national conference.

Brandy Salmon

Brandy Salmon

Managing director of Virginia Tech Innovation Campus
Associate vice president for Innovation and Partnerships

With over 20 years of experience at the intersection of research and business, Brandy Salmon serves as managing director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. She leads a cross-functional delivery team to set the vision for the campus and launch key efforts. Salmon came to Virginia Tech to oversee a discovery-to-market approach to strengthen industry partnerships and innovation: LINK, the Center for Advancing Industry Partnerships, and LAUNCH, the Center for New Ventures.

Prior to Virginia Tech, Salmon served as director for RTI’s Innovation Advisors, where she led consulting engagements for federal, corporate, and foundation clients to implement best practices in innovation, identify and evaluate new technologies and products, and develop commercialization strategies and partnerships.

Salmon joined RTI in 2011 from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Office of Licensing and Ventures, where she led a full spectrum of commercialization and technology transfer activities. She often lectures on topics of innovation and holds five issued patents. Salmon has a B.A. from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and an MBA from Duke University, Fuqua School of Business.

Natalie Hart

Natalie Hart

Assistant vice president of Advancement, National Capital Region

Natalie Hart is a Virginia Tech leader in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., where she works with industry partners and develops future relationships. Hart is building an integrated approach to the university’s Advancement program in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area by coordinating programs to maximize support for and exposure of university initiatives. She also provides strategic oversight of communications and alumni activities in support of the university’s efforts to increase its prominence and impact in the region.

Since 2002, Hart has held positions of increasing strategic importance at Virginia Tech. She has served in the Office of the President as director of presidential initiatives, advising President Tim Sands on large-scale initiatives. Hart also has served as director of government affairs and deputy chief of staff.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in public and international affairs, both from Virginia Tech. Hart also earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit and nongovernmental organizational management from Virginia Tech.

David Baker is assistant director of government relations and community affairs.

David Baker

Assistant director of government and community affairs


David Baker, who is based in Alexandria, is assistant director of government and community affairs for the Innovation Campus. He is focused on supporting campus leadership as they work with Alexandria residents and key stakeholders to launch the new campus.

Baker joined Virginia Tech from George Washington University where he served as director of Virginia Government Relations since 2014. Baker developed the first GW in Virginia Economic Impact Study, quantifying the university’s investments across four communities in Virginia.  In addition, he partnered with the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and Alexandria City Public Schools to develop the first public-private, dual-enrollment partnership in Virginia. The health sciences partnership was recognized as a Governor’s Health Sciences Academy in 2018.

Prior to that position, Baker worked in federal and state government affairs for several organizations in Northern Virginia, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

He graduated from The University of Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and he earned his master’s degree of public policy from The George Washington University.