Jim Hatch MACCT ’72 is the interim chair of the PCLE. Pictured here speaking at the May 2018 University Awards Dinner.
Jim Hatch MACCT ’72 is the interim chair of the PCLE. He is pictured here speaking at the May 2018 University Awards Dinner.

Pamplin Update

Dean Robert Sumichrast began his remarks by expressing his ongoing support for the Pamplin Community for Leadership and Engagement (PCLE) and appreciates the opportunity, through the PCLE, to effectively talk with all Pamplin advisory boards.

Dean Sumichrast then touched on a few recent Pamplin news items:

  • Nancy McGehee, long-standing head of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, will be stepping down as department head this later this summer.
  • The Pamplin Engage Program, created to train undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) to support faculty and students in the online learning environment precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has enhanced the student experience in the online learning environment. About 100 UTAs were hired and trained in the fall with financial support from alumni, the University, and Pamplin. As the Engage program has been such a success, the goal is to continue it as an ongoing component of the student experience. Surveys of faculty and students have been conducted to gather input on ways to improve the online experience.
  • Despite the negative impact of the pandemic on in-person classes, preliminary indications are that Pamplin’s student enrollment will increase over levels that were experienced in the fall.
  • As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamplin’s budget has been negatively impacted, but the college has fared well. Budget uncertainty around the fall and spring semesters has resulted in a hiring freeze. This has resulted in larger classes (primarily online) and more students assigned to each academic advisor (500 vs. goal of 350). Additional challenges have been presented in the continued hiring of distinguished visiting faculty in several instances.
  • Despite the challenging budget environment and absence of face-to-face meetings, fund raising for the Global Business and Analytics Complex (GBAC) continues to progress. Private funding will be required to begin construction of the second GBAC academic building. The first academic building, largely funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia, will break ground very soon.

Pamplin Pulse newsletter update

Professor of Practice in the Marketing Department and Pamplin’s Director of Marketing Strategy and Analytics Donna Wertalik provided an update on the Pamplin Pulse newsletter. Wertalik reported that there was a high level of awareness about the Pulse and that initial circulation was about 29,000 alumni and has increased to about 35,000. In addition to promotion through social media, the YouTube channel has been relaunched and a Google Analytics dashboard is being created for GBAC. Finally, Wertalik reported that a survey of all Pulse recipients will be conducted later this month.

James Wu, a member of the PCLE Board of Directors, then introduced Janice Branch Hall, Pamplin’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. 

PCLE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ideation Session

Janice Branch Hall facilitated a discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Pamplin. She framed her session around courage and inspired the PCLE to reimagine how we can collaborate to cultivate a diverse and thriving culture where all stakeholders have a sense of belonging. Branch Hall shared that alumni feedback, experiences, insight, and voice matters as Pamplin shapes DEI in the future.

The PCLE members were divided into two breakout groups for a 20-minute ideation discussion. The questions and high-level takeaways from each breakout group are summarized below:

What are some ways your organizations are working toward greater DEI?

·       Partnering with HBCU’s, providing scholarships, and increasing company’s visibility to generate awareness; partnering with the National Association of Black Accountants; ensure a broad range of diverse candidates for interview process; developed top-level performance metrics and goals to support DEI progress.

·       Establish HR processes to identify barriers to the progression of diverse candidates; prioritized DEI and keep issues at the forefront; developed mentoring programs for diverse, younger employees to foster pathways to management roles; require diverse candidates sates for succession planning; understand variables that lead to retention and success of diverse candidates; many of these can be applied to the academic environment.

Based on the progress Pamplin has made, what are additional short-term and long-term opportunities for advancement?

·       Scholarship funding for low-income student recruits to increase representation; early outreach initiatives to generate greater awareness of Virginia Tech, Pamplin, and business disciplines (e.g. high school); develop partnerships with HBCU’s.

·       Define our goals for faculty and student representation and share with alumni; understand the barriers for recruiting diverse students (e.g. financial component, other barriers); adopt the Women in Business model to develop similar Pamplin groups across demographics, for example, leverage the Black Alumni Network.

How can Pamplin create a community of engaged alumni that represent the diversity of our state and country in organizations such as advisory boards?

·       Identify diverse students in various disciplines early in their undergraduate careers and create pathways for engagement on advisory boards; leverage the emerging leader and recent alumni boards; encourage all advisory boards to develop intentional diversity goals.

Branch Hall concluded the session by sharing the news that an Implementation Plan is forthcoming with college-wide DEI goals and metrics. She also recommended developing a DEI survey to capture feedback from the larger Pamplin alumni population. On behalf of the PCLE, we would like to thank Branch Hall for helping our DEI awareness and thinking.

Survey of Pamplin Academic Leadership

At the December meeting of the PCLE Board of Directors, time was devoted to discussing the future path for the PCLE in order to continue to pursue its mission of building community, sharing best practices, and growing and strengthening advisory board relationships. One outcome of that discussion was to form a task force to create a survey of Pamplin academic leaders (Pamplin department, program, and center heads). This task force was led by Chris Xystros. Other members of the task force included Shirley Edwards and Phil Moore.

The survey was distributed by Dean Sumichrast and asked respondents to rank certain activities and initiatives in order of importance for their departments, programs, or centers and their advisory boards. The second question asked the academic leaders to rate strategies that they felt are important for their boards.

Based upon these survey results, we will be forming two PCLE committees, with the support of the Dean, to explore areas where leveraging best practices could be of the most value to their respective departments, programs, and centers and their advisory boards. The committees will be asked to focus on the two following areas:

Fundraising: The role and process for advisory boards in supporting departments, programs, and centers and Pamplin fundraising efforts. This initiative will be conducted in cooperation with the Pamplin Advancement team.

Mentorship/student engagement and internship/job opportunities: The role of advisory boards in providing input to help enrich internship, externship, and employment opportunities for students.

The goals of each committee will be to identify best practices that either currently exist within some of our advisory boards and should be leveraged across all boards, or bring new ideas from external best practices. To get input from all relevant stakeholders, we believe department, program, and center leaders should also be part of the process. These initiatives will be conducted in collaboration with the PAC Student Experience and Development Committees in addition to Pamplin Advancement.

I would like to invite each of you to participate in one of these two committee activities. It represents an opportunity to become more engaged in support of your department/center and Pamplin overall. Please send me an email indicating your preference for the committee on which you would like to serve. A chair will be appointed to lead the effort.

Advisory Board Leadership

If there have been any changes in your advisory board leadership, please advise Crystal Jefferson (crcrocke@vt.edu) and myself (jhatch@vt.edu), so that the electronic roster can be updated.

The Pamplin Engage Program

The Pamplin Engage Program is launching for the second semester thanks to PAC members Brian Cook ’79, MBA ’81; Jim Hatch MACCT ’72; James Pearman ’70; Greg ’77 and Kathy Thompson; Donald Neff ’90; John ’70, MBA ’72 and Phyllis Thompson M.S. ’73; and Scott Wells ’91.     

There is a challenge to encourage more support for Engage to expand and sustain for the academic year 2021-2022. It will be promoted on Giving Day (see below) to encourage others to give both to Engage and to any other part of Pamplin that a donor wants to help. Pamplin is also seeking to involve more corporate employers to support Engage going forward. For more information, please visit https://pamplin.vt.edu/engage.html.

Giving Day 2021

Virginia Tech’s Giving Day 2021 will kick off on Feb. 9 with early giving messaging, with Giving Day running from noon to noon, EST, Feb. 24-25.

Pamplin’s success in Giving Day will be with our help as volunteer leaders and enlisting our Hokie networks to join us in spreading the word with “Hokies asking Hokies.” Please consider signing up to be a Giving Day Ambassador to help spread the word about Giving Day and encourage fellow Hokies to join in the fun by becoming a Giving Day Ambassador. To be a Giving Day Ambassador, please visit https://givingday.vt.edu/giving-day/32354/signup.

Our next PCLE meeting will be held in March 2021. Thank you for your support!

Jim Hatch
Interim Chair