Taran Cardone has been hired as director of strengths-based learning at Virginia Tech. 

Cardone comes to the Blacksburg campus from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. where she was director of student life curriculum and residential staff development. 

She has big ideas and plans to further the program she will direct in her new job.

“Strengths-based learning has a strong foothold at Virginia Tech,” said Cardone. “As the first campus providing all students, staff, and faculty members access to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment through the Virginia Tech Strengths Portal, the culture around strengths continues to grow. I see my role as building upon that culture of identifying strengths and translating them to important community needs, serving the university’s larger mission of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).”

Since 2013, strengths-based learning has gained momentum at Virginia Tech. Students are encouraged to focus on their gifts and talents, honing them into true strengths. Research indicated that people are much more engaged when they work within their strengths.

Virginia Tech forged a unique partnership with Gallup Inc. to provide students, faculty, and staff with the knowledge and vocabulary to describe their talents and the areas in which they excel. In fact, more than 15,000 members of the Virginia Tech community have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment. Approximately 3,500 individuals have participated in the assessment since the beginning of this academic year.

As students, faculty, and staff discover their strengths, Cardone will help them understand how those strengths affect their work and worldview.

“Hokies are increasingly interested in learning how to apply their strengths in their day-to-day lives,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Perillo. “Students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech want to learn more. We’re thrilled to have Taran on our team to lead the charge in making strengths-based learning even a greater priority at Virginia Tech.”

In her previous position, Cardone helped to create and implement Lehigh’s bLUeprint, a curriculum for outside-the-classroom learning. She also was responsible for the recruitment, selection, and training of resident advisors.

“Taran Cardone is a tremendous educator who cares deeply about helping students discover their greatest gifts and talents,” said Frank Shushok, associate vice president for student affairs. “I’m struck by Taran’s intellect, genuine interest in student well being, as well as her abiding commitment to a strengths-based approach to pedagogy and human development. Virginia Tech and our students will be better for Taran having joined us.”

Cardone is one of three chairs who lead the Keystone Experience advisory group, and will use her strengths and experience to develop this new initiative at Virginia Tech. She plans to incorporate the Keystone Experience into the new Thrive living-learning community, tentatively scheduled to reopen in Pritchard Hall in the fall of 2016.

Cardone received her master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Miami University in Ohio. She earned her bachelor's degree from Iona College in New York, majoring in speech communication studies and Spanish language and literature.

Written by Holly Paulette.

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