The sixth annual Diversity Summit was held Aug. 11 in the Latham Ballroom at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, bringing together online and in-person more than 400 diversity stakeholders from across campus to learn about and discuss objectives for the coming academic year.

Welcome messages from Michele Deramo, associate vice provost of diversity education and engagement, and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity, opened the day.

The summit included:

  • A keynote address from Claude Mason Steele titled, “Why are Campuses so Tense? Building Trust for an Inclusive Campus.”
  • Differential Impacts Conversations: Pandemic Reflections.
  • A panel on Understanding the Bias Reporting Process.
  • Meet and Greet: White Allies as Transformational Leaders.


In his keynote address, Steele — an American social psychologist, a former executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California-Berkley and a professor of psychology at Stanford University — said that while work of diversity is still young, much progress has been made. He saw the critical work of building trust to be a cornerstone of easing tensions, moving toward progress, and remedying harmful stereotypes.

Menah Pratt-Clarke (left), Claude Steele, and Cyril Clarke at the 2021 Diversity Summit.
Vice President for Strategic Affairs Menah Pratt-Clarke (left) stands with keynote speaker Claude Mason Steele and Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke at the 2021 Diversity Summit.

In a message centered on hope, Pratt-Clarke invoked the words of George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Pratt-Clarke invited each participant to envision a future of progress at Virginia Tech, to recommit to the work, to have hope for the future, and to be those “unreasonable” people mentioned in Shaw’s quote.

To see videos from the summit, visit the InclusiveVT YouTube Channel.

To receive information from any of the Diversity Summit sessions, please contact Michele Deramo at

To learn more about the Office for Inclusion and Diversity and its upcoming programs, please visit, or call 540-231-7500.


Claude Mason Steele speaks at the 2021 Diversity Summit
Claude Mason Steele delivered remarks during the 2021 Diversity Summit. Photo by Ryan Young for Virginia Tech
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