Virginia Tech's New Leader in Diversity on Campus Takes Her Post

Feb 2, 2016

Virginia Tech is looking to become a leader in inclusion and diversity on campus with new programs and a new person to guide them.

The freshman class at Virginia Tech this year is not only the largest in the university’s history, it’s also the most diverse. Next month a new vice provost for inclusion and diversity will lead the effort to build upon that. 

Menah Pratt-Clarke hales from the University of Illinois, where she held a similar position.  Here’s how she describes her goals.

“Making sure that everyone who is on campus feels welcome, included, safe, supported affirmed, in their identity and who they are.”

Virginia Tech's Campus.
Credit Creative Commons

According to a website “College Factual,” Tech’s ethnic and racial diversity is about a match for the national average.

“I feel like there’s a lot of strong foundational elements here and I think the opportunity to help coordinate and facilitate collaboration to really move the needle in a more substantial way is, hopefully, a skillset that I can bring.”

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, colleges and universities have been creating these offices and heads of diversity and inclusion for about the last decade. Among the strategies for success is the idea that these efforts be campus-wide rather than contained to one person or even one office.

More than a year ago Tech kicked off its comprehensive approach called Inclusive VT - a broad based program that includes benchmarks for success. And President Timothy Sands recently announced a goal to hire more than 300 new faculty over the next half dozen years.

Pratt-Clarke sees that as an opportunity to achieve another of her major objectives, increasing diversity among the faculty.

“Faculty members are typically here 30, 40, or 50 years. It’s a commitment. But I think it’s also about raising the profile of Virginia and to the extent that we can be seen as a national leader around these difficult issues of race and religion, gender identity and sexual orientation. I would consider that a success.”

Menah Pratt-Clarke was on campus last week, keynoting a well-attended conference on diversity.  She starts work February first.