Dixie Watts Reaves, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, was honored with the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 2009 Diversity Enhancement Award in recognition of outstanding contributions and demonstrated commitment to enhancing diversity in the college.

“No one has worked harder or been as successful as Dixie has been in making all students – majors and nonmajors, minority and nonminority – feel welcome and appreciated in the department,” said Kevin Boyle, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. “Dixie’s efforts have gone beyond the department to provide leadership at the college and university level in creating an atmosphere of community that makes all students feel welcome and supported in the academic environment at Virginia Tech.”

Efforts by Reaves to encourage and promote diversity at Virginia Tech are long-standing. She helped co-found the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences chapter in 1995 and served as advisor to the organization for nearly a decade. She serves on the McNair Advisory Committee and has been a faculty mentor to numerous undergraduate and graduate students.

Reaves works hard to offer a welcoming and inclusive environment in the classroom and in advising sessions. She has served as the academic advisor for almost all of the department’s minority undergraduates in recent years. Reaves recruits minority and underrepresented students to Virginia Tech by providing leadership for programs that bring students to campus for learning and research activities. She has been a co-principal investigator on a number of grants that have provided more than $460,000 in scholarships for these students.

“Dixie not only abides by and promotes the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, she embodies the principles of community,” said Leon Geyer, professor of agricultural and applied economics. “She leads both faculty and students in her support of making Virginia Tech a more inclusive place.”

A native of Lunenburg County, Reaves earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Virginia Tech, and her doctorate from Duke University.

Learn about previous Diversity Enhancement Award recipients online.

Written by Ashley Estes of Chesterfield, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Share this story