President Tim Sands today announced that two leaders in the Virginia Tech community, Menah Pratt and Robert Weiss, were named to the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program cohort for 2023-24.

Sands nominated Pratt, the vice president for strategic affairs and diversity, and Weiss, a professor in the Department of Geosciences, for the highly selective program. They will join a highly selective cohort of 36 individuals for a year-long leadership development program.

“Dr. Pratt and Dr. Weiss have distinguished themselves as talented administrators and academicians, and I am pleased to support their well-deserved inclusion in the ACE Fellows Program,” Sands said. “Dr. Weiss continues to excel as a faculty leader and researcher, and Dr. Pratt has been instrumental in strategic planning and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Higher education will benefit from their experience and leadership in the years to come.”

Menah Pratt
Menah Pratt

For more than 55 years, more than 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the ACE Fellows Program, a customized learning experience in which participants are immersed in the study and practice of leadership. For example, participants experience the cultures, policies, and decision-making processes of other institutions; engage in team-based projects and case studies; and network with leaders across the U.S. and abroad. More than 80 percent of ACE fellows have gone on to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level positions, and deans.

“I’m thrilled with the opportunity to continue my passion for InclusiveVT through the ACE fellowship program by engaging in research related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” Pratt said, “and I’m grateful for the support of Virginia Tech and President Sands.”

Pratt, who joined Virginia Tech in 2016 as vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity, leads the Office for Inclusion and Diversity and the Office for Strategic Affairs. She holds a faculty appointment as a professor in the School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, where she is affiliated with the Africana Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies programs and the Department of Sociology.

A man, wearing a black t-shirt, poses in front of a small wooded area on the Drillfield.

A man, wearing a black t-shirt, poses in front of a small wooded area on the Drillfield.
Robert Weiss

Prior to Virginia Tech, she served as the associate chancellor for strategic affairs and associate provost for diversity at the University of Illinois. She also worked at Vanderbilt University for eight years as university compliance officer, assistant secretary of the university, and university counsel. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree, law degree, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.

Said Weiss, “Becoming part of the 2023-24 ACE fellow cohort is a great honor, and I want to thank President Sands for nominating me. The fellowship enables me to study the functions and processes at another university. As a university community, we can always do better, and I look forward to applying what I learn to help improve Virginia Tech.”

Weiss, currently the president of the Faculty Senate and the faculty representative on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, is a professor in the Department of Geosciences, director of the Academy of Integrated Science in the College of Science, and director of the Center for Coastal Studies in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute. He earned his Ph.D. equivalent at Westfalische–Wilhelms-University, Münster, Germany, in 2005, and his diploma (Master of Science) at Friedrich–Schiller-University, Jena, Germany, in 2002. Before joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 2011, he worked at the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research in Seattle from 2005-08, and Texas A&M University’s Department of Geology and Geophysics from 2008-11.

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