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Hanna named interim vice provost

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 02 - September 5, 1996

Responding to one of the top recommendations of the Outreach Implementation Task Force and the Task Force on University Outreach, Virginia Tech Provost Peggy S. Meszaros has appointed Dixon B. Hanna, associate provost for planning and budget, to serve as interim vice provost for outreach until June 30, 1997, when a planned national search to fill the position permanently will be nearing completion.

"There is no one better equipped to handle this challenge. Dixon knows the work to be done, and he has the confidence of the faculty and staff to lead this effort. I appreciate his willingness to step up to this university-wide leadership role," Meszaros said.

The new position will be responsible for overseeing all outreach units, including continuing education and Public Service Programs; assisting with implementation of the Center for Organizational and Technological Advancement (COTA); leading the university's initiatives in economic development; providing support to the Commission on Public Service and Extension; and overseeing the Office of International Research and Development.

While in transition, Hanna will continue to assist in coordinating academic-space issues, oversee the Office of Institutional Research, and assist with university planning activities and budget development and analysis.

According to Hanna, his premier challenge in the new job will be to determine how to garner resources for outreach and to decide how the university should "reach out with our expertise and respond to the needs of Virginians." He said he would also be concerned with defining outreach, developing ways to measure and reward faculty members for outreach activities, bringing outreach into the strategic-planning process, focusing on areas of strength, and building on those strengths.

"Building on what we've got-not starting from scratch" will be a major consideration, he said, adding, "We've got to do a better job of selling what we're doing, raising the quality of credit the faculty is getting for its outreach efforts, and raising the value of outreach in the eyes of the university community. This will require the cooperation of the entire university. It's going to be a real challenge."

With other universities adopting the land-grant mission of outreach, Hanna said, "We have to build different kinds of relationships within higher education in Virginia. If we can collaborate with other universities, we can provide better service for the commonwealth."

The new position will not be Hanna's first experience with outreach. During the McComas administration, he worked closely with Charles W. Steger, appointed by McComas as acting vice president for public service, and later with Patrick R. Liverpool.

Hanna, who holds a master's degree in urban and public affairs from Carnegie-Mellon University, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1972 as an assistant professor and Extension specialist in housing and community development. He became assistant to the dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in 1974, moving through the ranks to become associate dean for administration in 1987, acting associate vice president of public service in 1990, and executive director of finance and administration for University Outreach and International Programs in 1993. He was named associate provost in 1995.