Dwight Shelton
Dwight Shelton

Dwight Shelton, who has served Virginia Tech in a variety of key administrative capacities over the past 40 years, has announced his retirement as the university’s vice president for finance and chief financial officer.

Shelton, who has served in his current role since 2008, will step down from that post effective Sept. 30, 2019, and will officially retire from the university on Nov. 30.   

“At critical moments in the history of our university, Dwight’s effective leadership and expert financial management have enabled Virginia Tech to grow in historic and unprecedented ways,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “His effective guidance served the university well during periods of prosperity and challenging economic downturns and advanced higher education across the state and the nation. Dwight’s service to the university and the commonwealth will have an impact for many generations to come.”

“A true gentleman, Dwight Shelton personifies our university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” said Virginia Tech Board of Visitors Rector Dennis Treacy. “His strong working relationship with the General Assembly, his strategic budget development, and the efficiency in which he managed university finances and resources transformed Virginia Tech and made a lasting impact on all of higher education in Virginia.”

As vice president for finance and chief financial officer, Shelton has been responsible for the financial operations of Virginia Tech, including overseeing both the internal and external budgeting activities; working with state officials and finance officers at other state universities on the strategic directions for higher education and the related funding, finance, and administrative policies; providing leadership for the university’s accounting, business, and procurement operations; and representing the university in its operating and financial relationships with its key related corporations.

Shelton has also provided leadership of some major information systems implementation efforts, including the university’s first automated accounting system.

“In my time at Virginia Tech, I’ve seen first-hand Dwight’s unparalleled expertise, resourcefulness, and wisdom that has kept this university moving forward in remarkable ways,” Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration Dwayne Pinkney said. “The relationships he has built across the state, his knowledge of the state funding process, and the leadership he provides on behalf of higher education in Virginia have all benefited our university.”

In November 2018, Amazon announced its intention to locate its next headquarters in Northern Virginia, selecting the site in large part because of the state’s higher education package. Shelton was a key member of the team to develop the higher education package and led the creation of the business model that has positioned Virginia to be the place for economic growth and enhance the tech talent pipeline for the future.

In a similar way, Shelton has played a key role in the development and success of the partnership between Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic that led to the establishment and growth of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, and contributed to the transformation of the greater Roanoke Valley.

“I credit Dwight with creating a strong and vibrant financial system and with building business models that have positioned Virginia Tech to achieve such priorities as the Virginia Tech Carilion Academic Health Center, various projects in the Northern Virginia region, as well as the expansion of facilities and programmatic initiatives on the Blacksburg campus,” said Minnis Ridenour, Virginia Tech’s former executive vice president and chief operating officer who currently serves as Senior Fellow for resource development. “Virginia Tech is a better institution today as a result of the leadership provided by Dwight.”

Shelton was instrumental in creating the business model that led to the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act of 2005. This act gave the state's public colleges and universities more operational autonomy in return for their commitment to meet state higher education policy goals and performance measures. Under his leadership, in 2006 Virginia Tech achieved Level 3 status under the act. This action provided the university with essential autonomy over the six major areas comprising its finance, business, and administrative operations.

“Dwight understands the economic needs of Virginia and how higher education can play a critical part in economic growth,” said Del. Chris Jones (R-Chesapeake and Suffolk). “More than any other, for decades, Dwight has been a champion for higher education in the General Assembly and has helped us write meaning legislation that has benefited all Virginians.”

In support of higher education across Virginia, Shelton has served on numerous committees and task forces at the state level. He is a former president of FOCUS, a state-level organization for accounting officers, and he served as chair of the Council of State-Supported Business Officers, representing all of Virginia’s public institutions.

Shelton joined Virginia Tech in 1979 as director of internal audit to work with Minnis Ridenour. In 1985, he became the university controller, overseeing all university accounting functions, the bursar’s office, student accounts, risk management, and university purchases and campus stores.

In 1994, Shelton became interim university budget director and later accepted the position on a permanent basis in 1995. In 1997, he was promoted to associate vice president for budget, financial planning, and analysis, subsequently to associate vice president for finance and budget in 1999, and then to vice president for budget and financial management in 2001.

He also served as the interim senior vice president for operations and administration while the university searched for this new position under Sands.

During much of his service as university controller, Shelton was pleased to have the opportunity and experience of working closely with Ray Smoot, former vice president for administration and treasurer at Virginia Tech and former chief executive officer of the Virginia Tech Foundation.

“Minnis Ridenour hired Dwight, and I will always consider that one of the most strategic moves he ever made,” said Smoot. “When you think of what Dwight has done, it is remarkable. We would not be where we are today without his hard work, leadership, and commitment to forwarding Virginia Tech as the leading land-grant that serves the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Shelton did not plan to spend his career at Tech but leadership and ongoing new and challenging opportunities paved the way to a long career.

“As I reflect on my 40-year career at Virginia Tech, I am both honored by the opportunity to have served and grateful for the support and leadership of the many I have had the pleasure to work with to serve the university and the commonwealth.” said Shelton. “At the top of my goals throughout my career were always to find and allocate as many resources as possible to invest in our academic programs and initiatives and to create a strong and vibrant financial and business structure that could support the university in the future. I believe that we have made progress on those goals, and our financial position is stronger now than at any other time in my career.

“I am particularly appreciative for the team in finance that has jointly executed  the careful, important work that we envisioned over many years. I will always be grateful for longevity and loyalty of my team members that always responded in a very supportive manner to my work and responsibilities and made it possible for us to serve. Sylvia and I consider Virginia Tech part of our extended family,” Shelton said.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Shelton was a manager with the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney, where he was a member of the audit staff from 1971 to 1979 and led the audit activities for several clients, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, private corporations, and nonprofit clients.

A Hokie to his core, Shelton received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA, both from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. In addition, he has taught a senior-level accounting class on Controllership and Accounting Policy in the Pamplin College. Shelton is also a Certified Public Accountant in North Carolina and he is a member of the Virginia Society of CPAs and the North Carolina Association of CPAs.

Pinkney will soon announce a national search for a vice president of finance. Future updates will be available on the Senior Vice President of Operations and Administration website.

Written by Mark Owczarski and Tracy Vosburgh