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Affirmative Action Awards presented

By Stewart MacInnis and Michele Clark Holmes

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 21 - February 22, 1996

The Academic Programs Office of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Womanspace, and Bevlee Watford of the College of Engineering all received University Affirmative Action Awards on February 12.

The awards have been made annually since 1984 to recognize unusual efforts by members of the university for the benefit of minorities, women, and the disabled. University President Paul E. Torgersen presented this year's awards.

The CALS's Academic Programs Office was cited for "its efforts to recruit and retain under-represented undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members." Those efforts have resulted in a doubling of the number of under-represented students in the past five years, as well as the hiring of black and women faculty members.

Singled out for recognition were CALS faculty members Laurence Moore, John White, Sandy Wiedegreen, and Dixie Reaves.

The academic programs office established a college committee on diversity recruitment and retention. Faculty members conducted summer research apprenticeship programs in 1993 and 1994 for minority high-school students from Southwest Virginia. For the last four years, the college has conducted a summer research internship program for undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities.

CALS produced six videotapes and conducted a teleconference with students and faculty members at 12 predominantly African-American high schools in the state. More than 100 tapes of the programs were distributed to educators and guidance counselors throughout Virginia. College faculty members are conducting joint research, preparing joint grant proposals, and establishing linkages for student recruitment with faculty members from selected historically black institutions.

The college established a chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences.

Womanspace is the Women's Undergraduate Network at Virginia Tech. Organized six years ago, it "is committed to the support and retention of women students in a safe and encouraging environment." It was recognized for programs and activities that promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation of women's activities.

The organization co-sponsored "Mobilizing for Freedom, Choices, and Civil Liberties," a program providing information on the diverse groups concerned with civil liberties. Members of the group participated in Lobby Day to influence state delegates about issues that affect women and children. And its members sponsored speakers and projects as part of Women's Month.

Members of Womanspace helped organize the annual "Take Back the Night" rally and march at the university, participated in a similar rally at Radford University, and gave a workshop at the Young Feminist Conference last November on how to organize such a rally. They also participated in the development and distribution of hang-tags, outlining resources available for people who have been sexually assaulted.

Watford, director of minority engineering programs, was recognized for her innovations since joining the College of Engineering in 1992.

Among her accomplishments were the institution of an annual minority-engineering student reception and a similar reception for first-year women engineers. She established the Black Engineering Support Teams on campus, expanded the college's academic enrichment camps to include women and minorities in the New River Valley, instituted a monthly luncheon for minority graduate students and faculty members in the college, and developed a study hall for minority engineering students.

"She reflects the motto of the university, `Ut Prosim,'" said Torgersen. "She is an excellent example of someone who is making a difference."