Virginia Tech’s Mid-Year Diversity Summit was held Jan. 17 at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

The summit is an InclusiveVT critical touchpoint event sponsored by the Office for Inclusion and Diversity. The one-day summit gathered more than 300 representatives campus-wide to reinvigorate collective efforts toward diversity strategic goals.

Michele Deramo, assistant provost of diversity education and programs and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and diversity, opened the summit with a warm welcome.

This year’s keynote was delivered by President Tim Sands, who discussed Virginia Tech’s progress toward an inclusive campus. He was followed by the second keynote speaker, Abigail Stewart, chair of gender and feminist psychology and distinguished professor of psychology and women’s studies at the University of Michigan.

The summit topics included:

  • Being a Difference Maker + Challenges Ahead
  • An Inclusive Climate for Students
  • Building inclusive environments for undergraduates in your departments
  • The VT Food Access and Security Study—Next Steps
  • Ways We Can Support You: Graduate School Retention and Support Programs
  • I Am First-Gen: An Update on the Development and Implementation of First-Generation Programming
  • New Interfaith Program at Virginia Tech
  • Serving Students with Disabilities
  • The LGBT Faculty and Staff Caucus in 2020 and Beyond
  • Indigenous outreach and activities


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During the summit, attendees had the opportunity to learn more on how the university engages an inclusive campus by visiting the poster exhibits designed by faculty members.

“The Diversity Summit is an opportunity to bring together stakeholders across campus in order to set our common objectives for the year ahead,” Deramo said.

Among the participants from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences was its dean, Laura Belmonte. She participated in the panel discussion “Being a Difference Maker + Challenges Ahead.”

Melissa Faircloth, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology, participated in the panel discussion  “An Inclusive Climate for Students + Meet the Cultural Community Center Directors.” Faircloth is also director of the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center.

Two faculty members led Lightening Workshops, which were four rounds of 15-minute sessions. Mae Hey, an assistant professor of sociology, led “Indigenous Outreach and Activities,” while Ashley Shew, associate professor of science, technology, and society, led “Virginia Tech Disability Alliance and Caucus.”

Adapted from an article written by Hallema Sharif; photos and video by Lee Friesland

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands at podium
Virginia Tech President Tim Sands delivered opening remarks.
Full room at the Inn at Virginia Tech
The event drew diversity stakeholders from across campus.
Poster presentations were held to discuss best practices and discuss key issues.
Poster presentations were held to discuss best practices and discuss key issues.
Panel discussion
Panel conversation.