Virginia Tech alumnus Gary Kirk is the new director of the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships. He comes to Blacksburg from James Madison University, where he is a faculty member and recent director of the university's programs in public policy and administration.

Kirk earned both his master's and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech. His Ph.D. is in environmental design and planning, while his master's is in public and international affairs. His undergraduate degree, in ecology, is from New College of Florida. Kirk's academic expertise is focused on nonprofit governance, public service, and program planning and evaluation. He starts Dec. 19.

The center, part of Outreach and International Affairs, grew out of VT-ENGAGE, a volunteer-driven organization formed to honor the victims of April 16, 2007, and reaffirm the motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). The center also incorporated the university's service-learning activities. The center is known for spearheading university-wide volunteer activities and adding value to the student experience by offering ingenious service opportunities.

Susan Short, associate vice president for engagement, said, "We are excited to have Gary Kirk back at Virginia Tech to further focus and energize one of the university's premier centers making a difference in the community. His passion for student learning and commitment to the scholarship of engagement made him the perfect choice to build on the center's successes."

At James Madison University, Kirk won the Provost's Award for Excellence in Outreach & Engagement. He led the effort to launch an off-campus master's program in Roanoke and developed a portfolio-based capstone experience for graduate students. He also served on the faculty of the School of Leadership Studies.

From 2000 to 2002, Kirk worked at Virginia Tech in the Office of Budget and Financial Planning as an analyst and from 2002 to 2005 in the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning as associate director of planning and operations.

Kirk said, "I am pleased to return to Virginia Tech to lead the center's important work. The center's talented faculty and staff have built a solid foundation of quality programs. Now we are poised to broaden our global impact by promoting research-based practices in service learning, creating innovative student and faculty engagement opportunities, and developing sustainable strategic community partnerships.”

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