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Julie Ross

Dean of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering

Dean Ross posing in front of Hokie stone.
Julie Ross is the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

Julie Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering, joined Virginia Tech in 2017. During her tenure as dean, Ross has gained widespread recognition not only for growing the reach and impact of Engineering’s programs and research, but also for championing a bold vision for the future of the college, which includes building a more inclusive engineering community.

As a testament to her leadership, she was recently appointed as a special advisor to Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. Through this position, Ross assists the president and senior leadership team with guiding Virginia Tech’s presence in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area.

This most recent recognition joins several other notable awards and terms of service Ross has garnered over the last few years. In 2022, she was recognized as the Outstanding Woman Leader in Virginia Higher Education, which honors women who serve as role models to other women; display a commitment to developing and fostering the empowerment of women leaders; and exemplify leadership, success, and service.

She was also honored by her alma mater, Purdue University, with a 2022 Distinguished Alumni/Alumnae Award and was highlighted by the Society for Women Engineers magazine in their “Women Engineering Leaders in Academe 2020” feature. She is currently serving a second, three-year term on the executive committee of the Global Engineering Dean's Council, working closely with engineering deans from around the world to advance engineering education, research, and service globally.

Ross, who holds tenured appointments in the departments of chemical engineering and engineering education, has led the College of Engineering to many notable milestones during her tenure as dean. Working closely with partners throughout Virginia Tech, Ross has led growth for the college in several key areas.

Since 2017, the college’s total enrollment has grown by 18 percent, led in part by the expansion of computer science and computer engineering in support of the state’s commitment to tech talent development.

Perhaps more important than overall growth, the combined percentage of underrepresented and underserved students entering the college has increased to 41 percent – slightly above the university’s overall target of 40 percent by the start of the fall 2022 semester. And for a discipline in which women are notoriously less present than men, the college now has a population consisting of about 25 percent female students.

Other noted College of Engineering achievements during Ross’ tenure: 

  • Research expenditures grew by 16 percent (to $264 million in fiscal year 2020). 
  • Endowment value increased by 31 percent (to $238 million). 
  • Alumni giving rate grew by 54 percent.  

Ross also helped secure the largest ever gift ($35 million) to Virginia Tech from an alumnus.

Ross' research interests involve fluid mechanics, especially how it relates to infection formation in the cardiovascular system. Not surprising, Ross is also focused on the success of students and the faculty that lead them at the collegiate level, and also education and outreach to K-12 students and teachers.

Ross is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. In 2013, she received the American Council on Education fellowship, the nation's premier higher-education leadership development program preparing senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.

Ross came to Virginia Tech from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she was dean of engineering and information technology. She holds a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and a doctoral degree from Rice University, both in chemical engineering. 

More on Dean Julie Ross:

President Tim Sands names Dean Julie Ross as special advisor
Charting a community-focused approach to growth
Julia Ross named 2022 Outstanding Woman Leader in Virginia Higher Education