Virginia Tech President Tim Sands received the Edward Bouchet Legacy Award on Thursday during the 11th Annual Edward Bouchet Forum at Howard University.

Sands also presented the keynote address at the forum, held at the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library on Howard’s Washington, D.C., campus.

According to the Howard University Graduate School website, the university established the award to “recognize stalwart individuals with a zeal for cultivating a new generation of leaders.”

Howard’s Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society chapter called Sands “a scientist, educator, and inventor who has dedicated much of his career to advancing the impact of research and innovation in public education.”

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of all the individuals at Virginia Tech who have worked for many years to lay the foundation for inclusion and diversity,” Sands said. “The award is also a tribute to the Virginia Tech Graduate School and Dean Karen DePauw and her commitment to prepare tomorrow’s leaders, teachers, and innovators to thrive in a global community.”

Bouchet was the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States. He graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his doctoral degree in physics from Yale University in 1876. Yale and Howard universities established the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in his name in 2005. Both universities hold annual events to honor new society members.

In 2014, Virginia Tech became one of 11 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters. Such institutions must demonstrate a sustained record of training scholars who are traditionally underrepresented in the Academy. The Virginia Tech chapter has inducted 11 members over the past two years.

The society’s goal is to create a network of strong scholars and professionals who “serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the Academy,” according to its webpage.

“We are delighted that the Bouchet Society chose to honor President Sands,” said Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw, who also has been inducted into the society. “He exemplifies the society’s commitment to scholarship and service in the spirit of inclusion, community, and social justice, and he is a strong advocate for excellence in graduate education.”

The two-day Bouchet Forum provides “an important platform to comment on educational contributions in the U.S.,” according to the Howard website. Bouchet Society members and chapter administrators also will visit Virginia Tech’s Falls Church campus on Friday and tour the facility with DePauw and Graduate School Associate Dean Kenneth Wong. The tour includes time in the new Thinkabit lab.

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