More than 300 people attended the 2014 Advancing Diversity workshop, hosted by AdvanceVT and the Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

The workshop is the largest of many events coordinated by AdvanceVT, a program that assists Virginia Tech in preparing, recruiting, and retaining high-quality and diverse faculty. AdvanceVT began in 2003 with a grant from the National Science Foundation to promote and enhance the careers of women in academic science and engineering through institutional transformation. Grant funding continued until August 2010. High impact initiatives continue with support from university partners, and have been expanded to include faculty in all disciplines.

AdvanceVT began hosting annual “Advancing Women at Virginia Tech” workshops in 2004. In 2008, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion began co-sponsoring the event, expanding the workshops’ breadth and depth.

“Participation in the workshops has grown steadily from year-to-year, exposing more faculty, staff, and visitors to important issues of diversity here at Virginia Tech,” said Peggy Layne, assistant provost for faculty development and director of AdvanceVT. “We hope this event challenged participants to think about diversity and inclusion on this campus and beyond in new ways and to be champions for diversity and inclusion in their own units and across the university.”

Terrell Strayhorn, who received a doctorate in higher education from Virginia Tech in 2005, was the event’s keynote speaker. Strayhorn currently serves as associate professor of higher education and director of the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, and Academic Success at The Ohio State University, where he is also attending law school. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia.

“Diversity requires intentional efforts and resources,” said Strayhorn. “It should be viewed in the same way that we invest in other aspects of higher education, such as teaching and learning, research, faculty, staff, and students.”

Strayhorn challenged participants to change their understanding of diversity, looking beyond just outward signs of diversity, and to use community to foster an environment of inclusion. “All people want to belong, want to feel wanted, want to feel significant,” said Strayhorn.

Breakout sessions were held on topics such as: enhancing graduate program diversity; communicating health information to diverse audiences; the scholarship of diversity; COACHE survey findings; supporting veterans on campus; Graduate School diversity scholars; and 50 years of civil rights in America.

Individuals, departments, colleges, and units that may want to be involved in the planning of the 2015 Advancing Diversity workshop, through presentations or poster displays, can contact the AdvanceVT office. Look for information about registering for the event in late fall through Virginia Tech News.

AdvanceVT hosts a variety of events throughout the year including graduate student lunch seminars and leadership lunches. Updates are posted on the AdvanceVT website as well as through campus notices on Virginia Tech News.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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