Julia RossThe College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, one of the largest U.S. engineering programs, on Jan. 24 said it named Julia M. Ross as dean, effective on July 31. She now is dean of engineering and information technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The Blacksburg-based school cited her “collaborative leadership experience from one of the nation’s top universities for innovation,” adding that she “has worked diligently to advance opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities” in engineering and IT. UMBC ranks fourth on U.S. News & World Report’s list of most innovative universities.

Ross led UMBC’s INSPIRES K-12 initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, to expose young Baltimore County students to engineering study. Virginia Tech has nearly 10,000 engineering students, of which 7,900 are undergrads. In a statement, she said the school “understands and values the changing landscape of tech­nology and education.” Ross also is a past fellow of the American Council on Education, the leadership development program for U.S. colleges and universities, and an executive committee member of the Global Engineering Dean’s Council, which advances engineering education worldwide.

At a recent Washington Post symposium, she said that skills to “approach really ill- defined, open-ended questions that are really messy and figure out a path … are always going to be important. Whether a student can recall a specific equation … is really not going to be important in 10 years.” Ross, who also will have tenured faculty appointments in two Virginia Tech engineering-school departments, will replace Richard Benson, who left last year to become president of the University of Texas, Dallas.