In early December 2014, Virginia Tech received approval from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) for a new undergraduate, water resources major at the university. This followed approval by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during its June 1-2, 2014, meetings. The new “Water: Resources, Policy, and Management” Bachelors of Science degree will begin in 2015.
The program’s academic home will be Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. But the major is designed to be highly interdisciplinary, with involvement and course offerings also in Tech’s colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture and Urban Studies, Engineering, and Science. Subject matter will include water chemistry and physics, water quantity, water quality, watershed management, law and policy, economics, and other areas designed to equip students to deal with the complexity of water resources issues. This comprehensive, interdisciplinary major is the first of its kind available for undergraduates in the United States. The Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s director, Stephen Schoenholtz, will coordinate the new major, assisted by an advisory committee comprising faculty from 10 Tech departments.
The new major’s development, which began in 2011, took place in concert with Tech’s hiring of a “cluster” of seven new water-resources faculty members in 2013-14.