Ben Dixon to retire as vice president for multicultural affairs
August 25, 2006
Benjamin Dixon, vice president for multicultural affairs at Virginia Tech since 1998, has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, 2006.
As vice president for multicultural affairs, Dixon provides leadership in the development of university policy and practice related to intercultural relations, diversity, and equity issues. He played a central role in the development of the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, a statement that affirms the university's commitment to a diverse and inclusive community. In 2005, it was endorsed by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, President Charles W. Steger, the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association (representing undergraduate students), the Graduate Student Assembly, the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and the university's Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
“I am extremely grateful for the tremendous effort Ben has put towards making Virginia Tech a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of the university community,” said Steger. “The Virginia Tech Principles of Community will be a permanent part of our campus culture.”
“I am grateful for the opportunities I've had working with my staff and members of the Virginia Tech community, particularly the students,” said Dixon. “I am confident the university will continue building the culturally rich and inclusive learning environment our students, teachers, researchers and staff deserve.”
A national search for Dixon's successor will be conducted. President Steger plans to appoint a search committee shortly.
Dixon was named Virginia Tech’s first vice president for multicultural affairs by President Paul Torgersen in June 1998. Since that time, the Office of Multicultural Affairs has grown to 10 staff members and provides leadership to create and sustain a more diverse and inclusive campus community.
With Dixon’s leadership, the Office of Multicultural Affairs played a central role in the creation of the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the week-long Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The office also manages the Diversity Certificate Program, which helps undergraduate students develop multicultural competencies that can be used throughout their lives, and oversees the Opportunities Scholarship Program, the Student Support Grants Program, and the Presidential Campus Enrichment Grant Program.
Prior to his arrival on campus, Dixon served as the State of Connecticut’s deputy commissioner for education, which he held from 1992 to 1998, and was The Travelers (Insurance) Companies first workforce diversity director. He also served as interim superintendent of the Hartford (Conn.) school system.
Throughout his career, Dixon initiated innovative programs for the gifted and talented, persons with disabilities, and persons of diverse cultures. As a community activist, he was a co-founder of Education/Instruction, an advocacy and consultant group, and the Diversity Council, a regional organization for major corporations interested in improving their understanding and management of cultural diversity. He was appointed by the Governor of Connecticut to serve as charter member of the African American Affairs Commission.
Dixon has also served as president of the Study Commission for the Council of Chief State School officers, a national organization of the highest elected or appointed education officials in each state.
Dixon received his bachelor's degree in music education from Howard University, a master's degree from Harvard University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts in educational leadership and administration.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.