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Correspondent of the Day: Virginia Tech proudly promotes diversity

Correspondent of the Day: Virginia Tech proudly promotes diversity

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Virginia Tech proudly promotes diversity

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Contrary to the views Bart Hinkle expressed in his recent Op/Ed column, “Ideology run amok in Blacksburg,” Virginia Tech is proud to promote diversity and inclusion as laudable goals. We hope that everyone, regardless of background, feels welcome in our community. We value free speech and the positive contributions that each person brings to our great university.

The suggestion that contributions to inclusion and diversity are a litmus test for promotion are patently false. Contrary to Hinkle’s assertions, candidates for promotion and tenure (P&T) are not required to “repeatedly demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

A close reading of the university’s P&T guidelines reveals, time and again, that a candidate “may” include examples responsive to the criteria. It says may — not must. They might be awards, professional appointments, grants, contributions to a profession, service to students, etc. Or they might include examples to promote diversity. Of the 70-plus criteria suggested in the P&T guidelines, only a handful refer to diversity and inclusion.

For sure, certain items are required — courses taught, student evaluations, examples of scholarship or research — but not every criterion requires an example.

During my career as the chief academic officer, I have presided over hundreds of promotion and tenure reviews. There will always be variances on dossiers depending on the focus or emphasis of a given professor. We provide opportunities for faculty members to describe contributions across our three mission areas of teaching, research and service. Each faculty member may contribute in different ways at different stages of an academic career.

We strive to make Virginia Tech a campus that will continue to attract the best and brightest students from across the commonwealth who share our commitment to excellence, a “hands on — minds on” educational philosophy, a dedication to service as reflected in our “Ut Prosim” motto, and a welcoming and inclusive community.

Indeed, we treat as a badge of honor the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, which affirms the value of human diversity, the inherent dignity and value of every person and recognizes the paramount importance of freedom of expression.

Mark G. McNamee

Senior Vice President and Provost,

Virginia Tech.

Blacksburg.

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