Mercedes Ramírez Fernández, of Urbana, Illinois, has been named associate vice provost for strategic affairs and diversity at Virginia Tech. She will work with Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity.
Fernández, currently interim assistant chancellor and assistant provost for student diversity at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be part of the team leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Virginia Tech. In her new role, she will develop and support innovative programs and policies relevant to diversity and inclusion across all university campuses and programs.
Additionally, the new position focuses on providing oversight of efforts to achieve a diverse student population, develop and sustain programs to enhance understanding across differences, and other strategic objectives related to diversity and inclusion goals.
“I'm delighted that Dr. Fernández has chosen to join Virginia Tech,” said Pratt-Clarke. “She will bring a significant depth and breadth of knowledge and experience related to diversity and inclusion.”
At the University of Illinois, Fernández also currently directs the Illinois Promise Program, supporting first generation and low-income student success. She previously served as assistant dean of admissions and director of student advising and learning communities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has served as vice chair of the chancellor’s and provost’s committee on race and diversity and helped advance a successful proposal to have all students take a course focusing on the lived experiences of U.S. minorities. Prior to joining Illinois, she directed living-learning communities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fernández’s expertise and research interest include diversity in higher education curriculum, institutional models that support student success, strategic enrollment management, alumni relations, and assessment.
Fernández said she was drawn to the position because of the university’s commitment to fostering a culture that supports the highest level of student achievement. “I am also particularly moved by Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), as this institutional dictum reflects my own leadership philosophy.”
Fernández earned an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico. She will begin her new position on July 1.