Directing operations at a large university

January 25, 2022
Lynsay Belshe, '98, brings organizational change expertise to Virginia Tech

The return of over 30,000 students. Two tornados touching down mere miles from campus. A 65,000-plus capacity crowd at a football game—during a pandemic. These were among the challenges demanding her attention during her first few weeks on the job, said Lynsay Belshe, ’98.

As Vice President for Enterprise Administrative and Business Services at Virginia Tech since August, she oversees a variety of campus units, including the Police Department, Emergency Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Rescue Squad, Transportation Services, and Mail Services.

“I joke that I used to really enjoy sleeping,” Belshe said, “but given the role I’ve got, I use several specific ring tones on my phone to identify who’s calling. If the chief of police calls me in the middle of the night, I need to answer.”

Although meetings consume much of her time, she makes a point to get out and interact frequently with “her folks” to hear their perspectives and learn how their roles support the university. She invites all members of her division to join her for “Walking Wednesdays,” a time to enjoy some fresh air and conversation.

“During my first 90 days on the job, my primary objective was to meet as many people as I possibly could,” the vice president said. “I wanted to build relationships with people before I needed something from them or they needed something from me. It was important for me to understand how things are done here and why.”

Now that she has started building relationships on campus and in the town of Blacksburg, Va., home to Virginia Tech’s main campus, her next priority is organizational alignment, she said. “My team will develop our goals collaboratively, focusing on three key elements: our business strategy, operating model, and culture.”

Belshe looks forward to the challenge. She said she loves navigating the “complex ecosystem” represented by higher education, which incorporates not only academics but everything associated with living and working in a mini-city.   

“My secret power weapon is organizational development and change management,” said the University of Richmond alumna, who majored in leadership studies and rhetoric and communication studies as an undergraduate. She received a Master of Arts in Organizational Sciences from The George Washington University.

The Jepson School of Leadership Studies drove home the importance of collaboration and engagement, but also leadership accountability,” she said. “Leaders must communicate with stakeholders and get their feedback. Then they must be willing to make a decision and hold themselves accountable.”

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Belshe held leadership positions at Syracuse University, The George Washington University, and management consulting firms. She honed her expertise in driving organizational change in these jobs. For example, during her tenure at George Washington, she led a partnership of an independent, nonprofit museum and the university, allowing both to increase their reach and impact.

“We created a space on our campus for the Textile Museum,” she said, “expanding the study, care, and access of its priceless artifacts, while also tying it to George Washington’s academic and research mission. Shared vision and dialogue enabled us to work through legal, human resource, business, financial, and public relations complexities.”

As she anticipates how she will contribute to organizational development and change at Virginia Tech, Belshe said she will succeed by partnering with others, especially her team members.

“I have exceptional leaders on my team with deep skill sets in their fields. I strive to empower them by serving as an advocate, facilitator, and listener, so they can thrive as leaders within their units and in the university community.”