Virginia Tech to adopt recommendations of task force to advance inclusion and diversity efforts; new organizational structure to be implemented
Virginia Tech will make a significant change in its organizational structure to advance and revitalize inclusion and diversity efforts and to expand and enhance its commitment to the values expressed in the Principles of Community.
The university’s inclusion and diversity initiatives will be led by a newly established President’s Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council. The council, chaired by Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, will guide, support, and be accountable for advancing inclusion and diversity initiatives throughout the university.
This new approach will include a senior level advisor to the president who will also serve as an interim vice provost for inclusion and diversity during the transition.
The current programs and staff members of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will be transferred to other existing university units and will assist in supporting future initiatives.
The decision by President Sands to make these changes was based on the unanimous recommendations of the Task Force on Inclusive Excellence created last fall by former President Charles Steger.
“This new organizational model is simply a scaffold; success in distinguishing Virginia Tech as the exemplar for the modern land-grant research university will only come with the efforts of every student, staff and faculty member to advance a bold and reinvigorated inclusion agenda,” said Sands. “A commitment to inclusion as an integral and inseparable element of institutional excellence is a requisite characteristic for attracting talent, for assembling world-class research teams, and for fulfilling our engagement mission.”
“I am confident this new structure will help university leadership and representatives take personal and collective responsibility for inclusive excellence,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee. “We have made progress on many fronts, but we must and can do more to ensure that Virginia Tech is a place that attracts, nurtures, and retains outstanding faculty, staff, students, and administrators from all sectors of our increasingly diverse regional and global society. Creating a culture of inclusion continues to emerge as a compelling strategy for long term, sustainable progress.”
The new administrative structure consists of four key components recommended by the task force:
- An executive-level council, chaired by the university president and comprised of the provost, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, deans, and vice presidents that would improve accountability for success on identified inclusion and diversity initiatives. Over the next several weeks, Sands and McNamee will work to identify and enlist membership for this council.
- The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost will serve as the administrative home for supporting inclusion and diversity efforts.
- A decentralized rather than a central administrative organization to develop and implement inclusion and diversity efforts. Sands and McNamee will identify and appoint six university employees to also serve as inclusion and diversity coordinators. These individuals will assist the executive council by advocating for programs and services throughout the university.
- A senior advisor to the president who will help to support the university’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.
In addition, Sands and McNamee will invite guidance from an advisory committee comprised of caucus chairs, alumni, individuals identified by the Commission of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and others as needed, to provide guidance and information to the executive council, coordinators, and senior university leaders. Full implementation of the new model will take place in the coming months.
In recent years, several leading universities including Cornell, Texas A&M, and Duke have launched new efforts to improve university-wide involvement and accountability in the area of inclusion and diversity. Members of the Task Force on Inclusive Excellence consulted with representatives from these and other universities to identify emerging practices and explore which elements of these programs might work best at Virginia Tech.
More information about the changes and communications from President Sands and Provost McNamee can be found on the Office of the Provost website.