The purpose of this council is to support the university’s vision and framework for inclusion and diversity and to oversee accountability for achieving strategic goals. InclusiveVT’s four institutional goals are:
Institutionalizing structures to promote sustainable transformation
Increasing faculty, staff, and student diversity
Ensuring a welcoming, affirming, safe, and accessible campus climate
Advancing the academic, research, teaching, and service mission through inclusive excellence
In March, we celebrated #VTUnfinished Part Two Principles of Community Week. The week’s events continued the #VTUnfinished initiative from last semester, which encouraged speaking respectfully across differences in our community. Several student-run events received VTUnfinished grants, including One Less Stranger dinner, which encouraged strangers to break down barriers and get to know each other.
Also in March, Virginia Tech invited representatives from the eleven Virginia Indian Tribes to the Virginia Tech Tribal Summit. Chiefs met with President Sands, Native at VT students, representatives from campus caucuses, and faculty representing education, history, culture, land and natural resources, and public administration. We look forward to increasing the visibility of Native American-American Indian concerns on campus, targeting recruitment efforts in concert with tribal communities, reinstating the pre-college initiative, and building relationships initiated at the summit.
Following the summit was Virginia Tech’s first inter-tribal powwow held on the lawn of the Graduate Life Center. Both the summit and the powwow acknowledged the Tutelo/Monacan people, the stewards of the land, air, and water used at Virginia Tech.
Throughout the semester, we worked with the Women’s Alliance to host a series of five conversations with women doctoral students, instructional and research faculty, tenured and tenure-track faculty, administrative/professional faculty, and staff. We listened to over 300 women share challenges and opportunities at Virginia Tech which included work-life balance, mentorship opportunities, and access to child care. We will be implementing new initiatives in the upcoming year to support women at Virginia Tech.
Participants from the College of Science and the School of Visual Arts developed strategies for technology use, classroom layout, and rubric design to create bridges rather than barriers in addressing the needs of all students. These faculties were also trained in facilitating difficult conversations and managing implicit bias in the classroom.
DiversityEdu is a new online education program about issues of inclusion and diversity for incoming students and faculty. The Board of Visitors approved a resolution requiring all entering students to complete the online education program before registering for second-semester classes.
We were honored to have almost 450 women of color in the academy from all over the country congregate at Virginia Tech to connect, support, and empower one another. Attendees were from across the country, including as far as NYU and California State. The conference also honored the legacy of Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, former vice president for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, by presenting Prof. Lucinda Roy with the inaugural Zenobia L. Hikes Woman of Color in the Academy Award. Please see this article and video to see highlights from the conference, which featured University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni from Virginia Tech, Prof. Henrietta Mann, and Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry as keynote speakers!
*Please view video in Safari Browser for Closed Captions
Following the first HBCU Summit attended by 10 HBCU institutions, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University have embarked upon an intentional, sustainable, and mutually beneficial relationship to advance their shared land-grant missions. Senior leadership delegations, including vice presidents and deans, visited each campus to identify opportunities for the collaboration around students, faculty, and scholarship.
Students, staff, and faculty discussed accommodations, ADA education and training, and access needs at a conversation hosted by the Disability Alliance. Suggestions for improvement were shared with the Office on Equity and Accessibility and the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. The Disability Alliance and Caucus welcome anyone who would like to be involved; please see their website for more information.
This summer, Virginia Tech will host two pre-college programs for underrepresented high school students, ExploreVT and the Black College Institute. These residential programs will introduce students to college life at Virginia Tech and to VT alumni from underrepresented populations. By participating in these programs, these students will hopefully feel encouraged to apply to Tech the next year. Project 2022 is the institutional goal of having 40% of our student body from an underrepresented and underserved population by the year 2022.
University Council has approved the addition of Critical Analysis of Equity and Identity in the United States as a core outcome area of the Pathways general education curriculum. Beginning in Fall 2018, all Virginia Tech undergraduate students will be required to take a course that addresses complex issues of domestic diversity and equity. This requirement was the product of collaboration between members of the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the University Curriculum Committee for General Education, and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity.
Thank you so much for your support this semester. We will continue institutionalizing structures to ensure a welcoming, affirming, safe, and accessible campus climate in the coming year.
In the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence,
Menah Pratt-Clarke, JD, PhD
Vice President Strategic Affairs
Vice Provost Inclusion and Diversity
InclusiveVT: Committed to Ut Prosim (that I may serve)
in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence.
The Office of Inclusion and Diversity: Courage. Commitment. Community.
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