The Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has named Shaila Mehra as its assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In this new position, Mehra will lead efforts to further pursue some of the college’s core missions.

“Shaila Mehra has a profound commitment to social justice and a proven track record of working to advance underrepresented and underserved populations,” said Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “I’m confident she’ll play a major role in helping Virginia Tech achieve its Beyond Boundaries vision, and she’ll be a strong advocate for fairness and inclusion for all members of our college community.”

Mehra most recently served as director of the Center for Africana Studies and a teaching assistant professor of English at Oklahoma State University. She earned a Ph.D. in African American literature from the University of Rochester.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mehra has served as a faculty member at Oklahoma State since 2012. She is credited with developing a majority of that university’s curriculum in Africana Studies.

Mehra’s research focuses on African American women with a specialization in Black feminist theory.

At Virginia Tech, Mehra will lead inclusion and diversity initiatives within the college; assist with the recruitment and retention of a diverse body of faculty, staff, and students; help advance the college curriculum in diversity, equity, and inclusion; and teach courses that critically analyze identity and equity through the lens of liberal arts and human sciences.

“I’m interested in promoting and creating courses that focus on identity, equity, and justice,” said Mehra. “I want to help make the case to future and current students that the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences is the central place to study these issues.”

Mehra, who will also serve as an associate professor of practice in the Department of Sociology, said she looks forward to working with the Virginia Tech Office for Inclusion and Diversity. She will contribute to improving critical thinking, reasoning, and awareness of inclusion and diversity through the university’s Pathways general education curriculum, and she will participate in the university’s strategic planning to attract more students from underrepresented groups.

Mehra will assume the role of assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion on July 1.

Written by Andrew Adkins