Dwight Shelton (center, holding award) was honored with the 2019 Virginia CFO Award (large nonprofit organization category), sponsored by Virginia Business magazine.
Dwight Shelton (center, holding award) was honored with the 2019 Virginia CFO Award (large nonprofit organization category), sponsored by Virginia Business magazine.

Virginia Tech Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Dwight Shelton has been honored with the 2019 Virginia CFO Award (large nonprofit organization category), sponsored by Virginia Business magazine.

Shelton, who received the award at a ceremony held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, Wednesday evening, announced in April that he would retire from the university later this fall.

For nearly 40 years, Shelton has played an instrumental role in Virginia Tech’s growth and success and the advancement of higher education in commonwealth, along with several significant economic development initiatives that include Amazon’s selection of Virginia as the site of its new East Coast headquarters and the launch of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

“Dwight is a highly respected and experienced financial leader known across Virginia for his expertise, skill, collaborative spirit, and impactful accomplishments,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “As we develop Virginia Tech’s vision for the future, Dwight’s deep knowledge of the financial landscape for higher education in Virginia has been invaluable. His positive impact on Virginia Tech, higher education, and the commonwealth has been nothing short of transformational.”

Shelton, who came to Virginia Tech in 1979, has served as director of internal audit, controller, budget director, and ultimately vice president and chief financial officer. His innovative funding strategies have consistently supported Virginia Tech’s strategic goals despite economic uncertainty and declining public investment in higher education.

“The university’s consistent financial strength made it possible to attract top talent, develop key partnerships, and expand outreach to serve the needs of communities across the commonwealth,” added Sands. “Over the years, Dwight has shared the benefit of his expertise through unofficial leadership roles. His success and willingness to share his expertise led to extensive collaborations with the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia, key General Assembly committee staff, the Department of Planning and Budget, and his counterparts across the state to develop sound fiscal policy for higher education in Virginia.”

According to Dennis Treacy, rector of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors and past chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Shelton has significantly strengthened Virginia Tech’s relationship with the commonwealth, advancing new initiatives and advising state policymakers of higher education’s potential to advance Virginia’s economy and quality of life.

“Higher education is one of Virginia’s top economic engines and Dwight’s role in strategically strengthening and expanding the state’s economic opportunities cannot be overstated,” Treacy said. “Government and business leaders past and present have great appreciation for his service, and the generosity with which he shares his knowledge and expertise.”

During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Shelton has led a wide range of business and financial functions, along with the implementation of new information systems. In his current role, he oversees internal and external budgeting activities; works with state officials and other state university finance officers on the strategic direction of higher education and related funding, finance, and administrative policies; provides leadership for the university’s accounting, business, and procurement operations; and represents Virginia Tech in its operating and financial relationships with key corporations. His direct reports include the Office of Budget and Financial Planning, Controller’s Office, Hokie Passport Office, Procurement Department, Capital Assets and Financial Management, Finance Information Technology, and the University Treasurer.

In 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 that developed 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.

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.

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.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Shelton was a manager with the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney, leading audit activities for several clients, including SEC, private corporations, and nonprofit clients.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA, both from Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business.

Written by Mark Owczarski