Virginia Tech was the epicenter of ACC academic leadership expertise recently as 75 faculty, administrators and liaisons from 14 participating universities gathered in Blacksburg for the first session of the 2018-19 ACC Academic Leaders Network (ALN).

The ALN meets during the academic year through a series of networking and collaboration sessions that are designed to facilitate cross-institutional connections among academic leaders while building leadership capacity for the participating institutions.

Jeff Earley, associate vice provost for finance; Ron Fricker, professor and department head of statistics in the College of Science; Kay Hunnings, associate dean for administration in the Pamplin College of Business; Patty Raun, director of the Center for Communicating Science; and Susan Sumner, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, were selected to represent Virginia Tech in the ALN.

Amy Hogan, assistant provost for leadership initiatives at Virginia Tech, chaired the executive committee for the task force that recommended development of the ALN program and led its implementation steering team.

“It has been amazing to see this network come to life, and it’s a great way to emphasize the academic strengths and opportunities that we benefit from as ACC universities,” said Hogan. “Significant networking took place throughout the first program session at Virginia Tech and a number of collaborative opportunities were identified. There is good diversity among the institutions in the ACC, and the opportunity to work together to advance our faculty and universities in ways that none of us can achieve on our own is significant.”

The first three-day session of the academic year took place at the Inn at Virginia Tech and focused on “Leadership Foundations.” Participants were able to use the session to reflect on both opportunities for their own continued leadership development and the value of networking with academic leaders from across all of the ACC universities. They also heard insightful presentations from academic leaders from Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and Wake Forest.

In addition to the three network-wide sessions that take place at participating institutions, collaborative leadership development activities will take place for each university’s participants on their home campuses between sessions. Georgia Tech will host the next network-wide session on “Implementing for Results" Feb. 7-9, 2019. The final group session on “Resources and Systems” takes place at the University of Notre Dame, May 28-30, 2019.

Hogan said the feedback from the Virginia Tech session was extremely positive, with attendees saying they benefited from the content, networking opportunities, and shared conversations about overcoming leadership challenges.

“Though the ACC is widely known for athletics, the academic strengths and contributions of its member universities are immense,” Hogan said. “The ALN used the session at Virginia Tech to both broaden public awareness of the incredible academic work that is happening throughout the universities and to build connections that leverage individual and institutional strengths through powerful collaborations.

“The impacts of these collaborations can greatly benefit our students, our research, our faculty and leader development, and ultimately the communities we serve both locally and globally.”

The ALN session hosted in Blacksburg also gave Virginia Tech an opportunity to showcase its campus and academic strengths to the ACC leaders as well as broaden awareness of the high-impact programs and expertise within the campus community.

“Beyond learning more about Virginia Tech, the session helped people begin building a highly collaborative network of leaders across all disciplines,” said Hogan. “They left with concrete goals for their own development and are looking forward to exploring many collaborative opportunities further. I am so excited to see what comes about as we continue to leverage this network.”