Saonee Sarker. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.
Saonee Sarker. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Here’s a roundup of education briefs from around Southwest and Southside:

Saonee Sarker named dean of Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech

Saonee Sarker, a professor at Lund University in Sweden, has been named the next dean of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business.

Sarker will officially step into her new role July 1, succeeding Roberta “Robin” Russell, who has served as interim dean since July 2022.

“Saonee’s strong academic leadership experience, global perspective, and commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse community of business faculty is well aligned with the goals and priorities of the Pamplin College of Business and the university,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. “I look forward to her joining our leadership team and supporting her efforts to lead the college and advance Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission and global reputation.”

Sarker has been a professor in the Department of Informatics in the School of Economics and Management at Lund University since 2021. She is also a visiting professor in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics.

From 2013 to 2021, Sarker was at the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce, where she held roles including senior associate dean for academic affairs, area coordinator of information technology, Rolls Royce Commonwealth Commerce Professor and professor of information technology.

At Washington State University, Sarker’s 11-year tenure included chair of the Department of Management, Information Systems and Entrepreneurship; George and Carolyn Hubman Distinguished Professor in Management Information Systems; associate professor of information systems; and doctoral program coordinator.

Sarker is director of diversity, equity and inclusion for MIS Quarterly and senior editor of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems. Among her research interests are smart infrastructure and sustainability, health care information technology and technostress, and technology-enabled collaboration.

Sarker earned a bachelor’s degree from Lady Brabourne College (Calcutta University), an MBA from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from Washington State University.

“I am honored to join the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech as its next dean. The college is experiencing tremendous positive momentum, and I look forward to partnering with new colleagues, alumni, and industry partners to advance a world-class business education ecosystem with far-reaching societal impact,” said Sarker.

Russell, who has served the college as interim dean during the search following the retirement of Dean Robert Sumichrast, will retire after a 40-year career at Virginia Tech.

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Grant will fund undergraduate scholarships at Emory & Henry

Emory & Henry College has received a grant of $302,810 from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Inc. to be used for undergraduate scholarships, the college announced.

The scholarships will be issued in the 2023-24 academic year.

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation has donated $4.5 million since 1973 to help students attend Emory & Henry. It was established in 1946 by Conkey Pate Whitehead in honor of his mother, with the goal of helping to educate women in nine Southeastern states. The scholarships it funds are need-based.

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Ferrum College conducts opioid overdose prevention training

Fifty-six people people received opioid overdose prevention training at Ferrum College at a recent event hosted by the college’s Division of Nursing in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health and Piedmont Community Services.

The event trained participants how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency using naloxone. This was the second REVIVE! training offered by the Division of Nursing this academic year, and participants included 18 students, 31 employees and seven community members, the college said.

Combined with the 36 participants in the fall event, 92 people have received the opioid overdose prevention training at the college.

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Virginia Tech researcher receives NSF award to study disease transmission among wildlife

Luis Escobar, an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to study disease transmission across two continents.

According to a news release from the university, Escobar’s aim is to assess the “biogeography” for the hantavirus, an established and well-documented virus that causes infection when humans encounter rodent droppings.

His work will merge geographic information about rodent populations, data on virus occurrence and transmission between wildlife and humans with broader climate and environment factors. The resulting information could help researchers understand why the Western Hemisphere strains of hantavirus spike to impact human health in some places, while remaining dormant elsewhere.

Escobar will do parallel research in the U.S. and in Chile. He also will develop and teach a first-ever course in disease biogeography.

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