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Virginia Tech chooses Cornell dean to run Innovation Campus

February 3, 2020 GMT

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech has chosen Cornell University’s dean of engineering to run its new Innovation Campus in northern Virginia.

Tech announced Monday that Lance Collins is coming to Virginia after a decade at the helm of Cornell’s highly ranked engineering school.

Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus will begin accepting students in the fall in classroom space Virginia Tech already has in Falls Church. The first campus building in Alexandria’s North Potomac Yard is scheduled for completion in 2024.

The Innovation Campus was cited as a major factor in luring Amazon to build a second headquarters and bring more than 25,000 jobs to northern Virginia.

The press release announcing Collins’ arrival highlights his ability to raise money and to recruit women and minorities to Cornell’s engineering program.

Collins, who is African American, said in an interview that he wants from the outset to establish a diverse student body, which remains a challenge in fields like engineering and computer science.

Virginia has committed $250 million toward building the graduate campus but Tech will still have to raise significant funds to complete it.

Collins said he was drawn to the opportunity to build a whole new campus from the ground up. He said the fundraising requirements are significant, but Tech benefits from the fact that the industry has a vested interest in seeing the campus succeed, offering opportunities to raise money outside the usual network of alumni.

He said he expects the campus to eventually rival Ivy League schools and other top-tier universities in academic excellence.