“Greater Happens Here”
The Future of higher education is uncertain, but it is clear that the landscape is changing rapidly. The landscape of higher education can therefore be stated as ever evolving, where new technologies, learning models, and student expectations emerge. As the world continues to change, higher education institutions need to adapt in order to meet the needs of students and employers.
Virginia State University (VSU), whose mantra is Greater Happens Here, is adapting to these changes and is well-positioned to succeed in the years to come. Dr. Tia A. Minnis is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Aﬀairs at VSU. Her unwavering dedication and passion have helped propel the institution to new heights.
Dr. Minnis begins her day with a clear sense of purpose as the sun rises over the picturesque campus, casting a warm glow on the 251-acre grounds. With a current student population of approximately 4800, the university hums with the energy of knowledge-seekers from diverse backgrounds, each eager to carve their path towards a better future. VSU’s sprawling campus, adorned with 11 residence halls and 14 academic buildings, perches majestically atop a rolling landscape overlooking the serene Appomattox River, oﬀering breathtaking vistas of Petersburg.
With an impressive 412-acre agriculture research facility, the university’s commitment to innovation and advancement is evident. Inspired by her own journey as a student at a historically black college and university (HBCU), Dr. Minnis recognizes the tremendous impact of education on transforming lives and communities.
“Higher education is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about empowering individuals to become catalysts for change,” emphasizes Dr. Minnis.
Our human resources are essential. Investing in our faculty, staﬀ, and students is critical to the institution’s success.” emphasizes Dr. Minnis.
Drawing from her experiences, she ﬁrmly believes that HBCUs play a crucial role in providing underrepresented communities with access to quality education and unique cultural experiences. It is this belief that fuels her drive to partner with the university president Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, and his leadership team to lead VSU towards greater heights of inclusivity and academic excellence.
As the University’s newly named Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Aﬀairs, Dr. Minnis is instrumental in shaping the university’s curriculum and fostering an environment that promotes innovation, diversity, and growth. Her unwavering commitment to the university’s mission has earned her the respect and admiration of faculty, staﬀ, students, and alumni alike.
Let’s delve into Dr. Minnis’s collaborative spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence!
The Torchbearer’s Quest
In the pursuit of a brighter future for both students and communities, Dr. Minnis is an advocate for higher education. With a passion that burns bright, Dr. Minnis has dedicated her life to the transformative power of education. Her journey began as a student attending a historically black college and university (HBCU), where she witnessed ﬁrsthand the profound impact education can have on lives.
“Education is the key to unlocking the potential within each individual and creating a better future for all,” says Dr. Minnis with conviction.
Throughout her academic journey, she realized the unique and crucial role that HBCUs play in society. As engines of opportunity, they provide a much-needed pathway to higher education for students from underrepresented communities. Beyond academic growth, these institutions oﬀer a rich cultural and intellectual experience that fosters a deep sense of identity and pride.
As part of the Virginia State University (VSU) family for six years, Dr. Minnis is committed to ensuring that the university remains a shining example of higher education excellence. Thrilled to be working alongside the University’s President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, and the dedicated administration, faculty, staﬀ, students, and alumni, she aims to strengthen VSU’s standing as a great university that nurtures and empowers every individual who walks through its doors.
“I believe leadership is the art and ability to inﬂuence the behavior of others to bring about the desired results in a mutually beneﬁcial way,” says Dr. Minnis. Her vision for VSU is one of inclusivity, diversity, and growth, reﬂecting the broader aspirations of higher education as a whole.
Through collaborative eﬀorts and a steadfast commitment, Dr. Minnis seeks to forge a future where education knows no bounds and every student’s potential is unleashed, making way for a brighter, more promising tomorrow.
Unveiling the Bedrock Values
Virginia State University (VSU) is committed to promoting academic success and professional development by sustaining a set of fundamental values and guiding principles. These values serve as the cornerstone for the institution’s dedication to academic excellence, individual development, and career advancement.
VSU aspires to excellence in every facet of its academic oﬀerings and support services. In addition to oﬀering students a demanding and intellectually challenging learning environment, the institution sets high standards for teaching, scholarly research, and innovation.
Dr. Minnis mentions, “At VSU, we embrace a student- centered approach and place students at the center of our mission.” The institution is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive campus community that nurtures individual growth, empowers students to reach their full potential, and prepares them for successful careers.
VSU supports the highest ethical standards and values academic integrity. The university encourages integrity, intellectual vigor, critical analysis, and responsible scholar- ship. Academic achievement is supported in a setting that values eﬀort, commitment, and intellectual integrity.
Virginia State University is dedicated to lifelong learning and understands that education goes beyond the classroom. Students have access to opportunities at the institution to participate in research, internships, experiential learning, and community service.
VSU embraces diversity and values each person for who they are. The institution supports a diverse and welcoming community that respects and values individual back- grounds, cultures, viewpoints, and identities. Dr. Minnis says, “We believe that having a diverse campus enhances learning and better equips our students for living in a multicultural world.” These basic beliefs and guiding concepts demonstrate Virginia State University’s dedication to providing students with a transformative educational experience that equips them for successful jobs, lifelong learning, and signiﬁcant societal contributions.
Embracing Diversity and Inclusion
To support the growth of the students on both a personal and professional level, VSU actively promotes an inclusive and diverse campus community. Dr. Minnis mentions, “To encourage diversity and inclusion on campus, we provide a variety of programs and initiatives.” For students from varied backgrounds, VSU promotes the creation of support networks and aﬃnity groups. For students, professors, and staﬀ, VSU oﬀers diversity and inclusion training courses and workshops.
These training opportunities improve cultural competency, raise awareness and provide people with the tools they need to create an inclusive campus community. VSU works with local businesses, organizations, and other educational institutions to provide students with chances for cross- cultural interactions, internships, and experiential learning. These collaborations increase students’ exposure to various settings and viewpoints, broadening their minds and preparing them for a global society. Through these pro- grams, Virginia State University demonstrates its commitment to creating a friendly and diverse campus.
A Leap of Faith
Virginia State University (VSU) has taken several steps to adapt to the changing landscape of higher education, including advancements in technology and evolving student expectations. The use of technology in education, blended and online learning, improved student support services, partnerships, and collaboration, as well as ongoing evaluation and improvement, are some of VSU’s key initiatives and strategies. VSU has embraced technology to enhance teaching, learning, and administrative processes.
The university has invested in state-of-the-art infrastructure, classrooms, and digital resources to support innovative instructional methods. Dr. Minnis states, “We incorporate online learning platforms, multimedia tools, and virtual collaboration spaces to deliver engaging and ﬂexible educational experiences.” To accommodate the changing requirements and interests of students, VSU has increased its selection of online and hybrid courses. Due to the adaptability and accessibility of these formats, students can access course materials and participate in educational activities at their convenience.
VSU also ensures that these courses maintain high standards of instruction and promote interaction between faculty and students. In order to meet changing student expectations, the university has also increased the scope of its student support services. VSU provides comprehensive academic advising, mentoring programs, and personal counseling services.
Additionally, VSU offers resources for ﬁnancial literacy, wellness, and mental health support to promote student well-being and success. To promote innovation and address new challenges in higher education, VSU actively engages in partnerships and collaborations with other organizations, businesses, and institutions. These partnerships could involve cooperative research projects, the sharing of resources, and joint programs that offer students distinctive chances and viewpoints.
To guarantee alignment with shifting student expectations and technology improvements, VSU periodically reviews and evaluates its programs, services, and technological infrastructure. To identify areas for development and make the required adjustments, the university solicits feedback from students, faculty, and staﬀ. Virginia State University exhibits a dedication to adjusting to the evolving higher education landscape through these programs. VSU seeks to give its students a rich and future-focused educational experience by utilizing technology, improving student support services, and being responsive to changing student expectations.
VSU understands the value of innovation and entrepreneur- ship in promoting economic growth, job creation, and leadership development. The university provides various avenues of support to encourage students to become future leaders and job creators.
The Reginald F. Lewis College of Business at VSU houses the Center for Entrepreneurship, which acts as the focal point for all entrepreneurial initiatives on campus. Students interested in creating their own ﬁrms or ventures can take advantage of the center’s tools, mentorship, and advice. To develop entrepreneurial skills and promote an innovative culture, it oﬀers courses, networking opportunities, and business proposal competitions.
In order to support student entrepreneurs, VSU oﬀers accelerator and incubator programs. These programs provide physical space, resource access, coaching, and networking opportunities for students to establish and grow their enterprises. The incubator and accelerator programs at VSU oﬀer guidance on how to launch a business, enhance a product, and secure funding.
Dr. Minnis annotates, “We encourage collaborative partnerships with local businesses, organizations, and governmental bodies to develop student entrepreneurs.” Internships, joint ventures, and research partnerships are a few examples of these alliances. VSU increases students’ exposure to actual entrepreneurship and innovation by connecting them with outside networks and resources.
Successful businesspeople from VSU’s alumni network act as mentors, advisors, and role models for today’s students. Students can learn from seasoned businesspeople and obtain insightful knowledge about the entrepreneurial process through this network, which supports mentorship opportunities, networking events, and industry connections.
Through these programs, Virginia State University fosters an environment of innovation and entrepreneurship that encourages students to take calculated risks, exercise their imaginations, and acquire the competencies required to become future leaders and job creators. Students at VSU are given the tools they need to turn their entrepreneurial goals into real businesses that have a good inﬂuence on society by providing a welcoming environment, mentorship, education, and access to resources.
In addition, the university’s BOLT (Becoming Outstanding Leaders of Tomorrow) program is designed to develop Virginia State University graduates with skills and competencies to become engaging, empathetic, and collaborative leaders within their local, national, and global communities. The goal of BOLT is to equip and provide undergraduates with leadership skills and experiences by infusing leader- ship competencies throughout the VSU curriculum and establishing a culture where leadership learning manifests into campus activity and experiential learning. BOLT emphasizes two aspects of the social change model of leadership:
- Leadership is a process rather than a position.
- All students are potential leaders.
Knowledge Knows No Bounds
For, faculty, staﬀ, and students, VSU oﬀers a variety of professional development options. These possibilities include conferences, workshops, seminars, and training courses covering a range of topics in teaching, research, leadership, and personal development. Through these programs, the VSU constituents can improve their expertise in their specialized sectors.
In order to assist professors in their teaching and research pursuits, VSU also provides faculty development programs. The university supports faculty members in keeping abreast of developments in their ﬁelds and incorporating fresh ideas into their instruction. The institution oﬀers grants, ﬁnancing options, and cooperative collaborations to support research endeavors. By participating in research, individuals can deepen their expertise, contribute to knowledge creation and stay at the forefront of their respective ﬁelds.
The institution rewards success and contributions with awards, accolades, and promotions. Faculty, staﬀ, and students are motivated to pursue greatness and make an investment in their continued growth through these award initiatives. Virginia State University cultivates a culture that appreciates and encourages lifelong learning through several eﬀorts. The university fosters personal develop- ment, career progression, and the acquisition of information and skills that contribute to both individual and institutional success by encouraging teachers, staﬀ, and students to engage in ongoing professional development.