The 2013-18 Diversity Strategic Plan (DSP) builds on the work envisioned and accomplished by the Virginia Tech community since the first plan was developed in 2000. This plan defines the needs and directions for the next stage in Virginia Tech’s growth as an inclusive and diverse academic institution and echoes the university’s core commitment to diversity.
Diversity and inclusion are hallmarks of excellence for Virginia Tech as well its peer institutions. The university’s Plan for A New Horizon affirms this “inclusive excellence framework [which] provides a solid foundation upon which we can focus our diversity-related initiatives” (p. 13). The framework is described below and remains at the heart of the 2013-18 DSP. Focus groups of faculty, administrators, and staff from across campus met during 2012 and 2013 to revisit the goals, objectives, strategies, and indicators of the previous plan and made revisions reflecting Virginia Tech’s current achievements in inclusive excellence. The internal focus groups were accompanied by an external benchmark study of 31 peer institutions from across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the country. Parallel findings from both studies ground the work outlined in this plan.
The discussions and drafts that shaped the 2013-18 DSP revealed that diversity and inclusion—their definitions, precepts, and narratives—are constantly evolving. Indeed, Hurtado, Alvarez, Guillermo-Wann, Cuellar, and Arellano (2012) note: “interpretations of the 2003 Supreme Court decision established that an institution’s interest in achieving diversity benefits in the learning environment is most compelling if … institutional definitions of diversity are broad, including both racial/ethnic and nonracial/ethnic diversity” (Hurtado et al., 2012, p. 47). Consequently, efforts to promote and sustain a diverse and inclusive community must similarly grow and change throughout the university. Each of the focus groups identified overlapping themes for the success of the goals, objectives, strategies, and indicators in this plan. The themes discussed below will be instrumental to Virginia Tech’s progress toward a diverse and inclusive community over the coming five years.
The 2013-18 DSP parallels Virginia Tech’s 2012-18 Plan for a New Horizon. As noted in the sections below, the imperatives of diversity and inclusion are reflected throughout the university’s plan and provide strong evidence of Virginia Tech’s aspirations for inclusive excellence, as well as our commitment to achieving the overall success of the 2013-18 DSP. As Chesler, Lewis, and Crowfoot (2005) observe: “Major innovations in organizations … are made and sustained when substantial internal leadership–from the top or the middle or the bottom of the organization – presses for such change” (Chesler et al., 2005, p. 167). Inclusive excellence engages and involves the entire university community.
Chesler, M., Lewis, A., and Crowfoot, J. (2005). Challenging Racism in Higher Education. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Hurtado, S., Alvarez, C., Guillermo-Wann, C., Cuellar, M., and Arellano, L. (2012). A Model for Diverse Learning Environments. In J.C. Smart and M.B. Paulsen (Eds.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research 27. Dordrecht: Springer.