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Ron Fricker, interim dean of the College of Science and professor of statistics, has been named vice provost for faculty affairs at Virginia Tech. Fricker will immediately begin transitioning into his new role and will officially assume leadership of Faculty Affairs upon the hiring of a new dean for the College of Science.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and to support our faculty,” said Fricker. “They are the lifeblood of Virginia Tech. Indeed, faculty research, teaching, and service make Virginia Tech the great institution it is. Their contributions elevate the impact and reputation of the university, and their industry and hard work help us fulfill our land-grant mission.
“As vice provost for faculty affairs, my focus, energy, and emphasis will be on providing opportunities for faculty to develop and progress in their careers, and to be a proponent for them as they serve our students, the commonwealth, and the world," Fricker continued. "Particularly in these challenging times, caring for and supporting our faculty – as well as all of our employees and our students – is so important.”
Fricker has been at Virginia Tech for more than six years, during which time he served as head of the Department of Statistics before moving into an administrative role as senior associate dean in the College of Science and, most recently, interim dean of the college. He has represented the college in Virginia Tech’s strategic planning effort, then served as co-lead in developing the College of Science’s strategic plan.
As vice provost for faculty affairs, Fricker will apply his leadership experience and expertise in academic administration and will continue to advance Virginia Tech’s institutional commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion among the faculty community. He will serve as a core member of the university’s academic leadership team, reporting to the Executive Vice Provost, and will work closely with the Executive Vice President and Provost on issues of faculty development, advocacy and advancement.
“The value that Ron places on service to the university and positioning faculty to excel in their instructional, research and career development activities makes him the ideal person for this important leadership position,” said Executive Vice Provost Don Taylor. “I admire and greatly appreciate his commitment to supporting faculty and providing them with the platforms and resources they need to serve our students and be successful at Virginia Tech.”
Prior to arriving at Virginia Tech in 2015, Fricker was a faculty member in the Operations Research Department of the Naval Postgraduate School and, before that, a senior statistician at the RAND Corporation, and the associate director of the RAND National Security Research Division. His research focuses on performance of various statistical models for use in disease surveillance, and statistical process control methodologies in general. Fricker co-authored a book published at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Monitoring the Health of Populations by Tracking Disease Outbreaks: Saving Humanity from the Next Plague,” which led to national and international appearances in media such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, among many others.
During the pandemic, Fricker applied his disease surveillance expertise with Laura Hungerford, head of the Department of Population Health Sciences, to co-lead a multidisciplinary team of Virginia Tech faculty, students, and analysts who have spent the past 18 months building models to help the university understand how COVID-19 could impact the campus.
“Working with Laura and the members of the COVID Modeling Group has been so rewarding,” Fricker said. “It is a wonderful example of Ut Prosim in action and the power of faculty coming together to help the university and our community.” Along with other Virginia Tech faculty experts, Fricker also served as an advisor to the New River Valley Regional Safety and Health Task Force established to help guide local governments, health systems, and businesses as they respond to COVID-19.
“While serving as senior associate dean and more recently as interim dean of the College of Science, Ron has been directly associated with the work of faculty and their career development,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “His experience and emphasis on supporting faculty and creating opportunities for them to be successful is critical to Virginia Tech’s ability to achieve its strategic goals. I look forward to working with Ron in his new role and benefiting from his knowledge, counsel and expertise.”
Fricker holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in statistics from Yale University, a master’s degree in Operations Research from The George Washington University, and a bachelor's degree from the United States Naval Academy. Upon graduation from the Naval Academy, he served as a surface warfare officer in the United States Navy. Fricker is a Fellow of both the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Most recently, he became a member of the National Academies’ Board on Mathematical Sciences and Analytics.