Diane Walker-Green, undergraduate program coordinator for the Department of Physics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2013 President's Award for Excellence.

The President's Award for Excellence is presented annually to up to five Virginia Tech staff employees who have made extraordinary contributions by consistent excellence in the performance of their job or a single incident, contribution, or heroic act. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize.

For more than 12 years, Walker-Green has been the support structure for undergraduate physics majors and for faculty in their teaching and daily interactions with students. Affectionately known as the undergraduate mom, Walker-Green is the direct contact for all physics majors. 

“By design, Diane’s office is directly across from the Society of Physics Students meeting room, where many majors gather daily,” said John Simonetti, professor and associate department chair. “In addition, she frequently sees students passing by her office and calls them in if she hasn’t seen them recently. Indeed, the students often come to her office to discuss personal problems, particularly if these problems are impacting their academic careers.”

Of particular note is Walker-Green’s work with a blind physics major, now in her third year. She has been heavily involved in not only recruiting the student, but also monitoring and enabling her progress. Walker-Green has been in continual communication with all parties involved in the education of the student, including faculty members, Services for Students with Disabilities, and the Office of Assistive Technologies.

Walker-Green spends many weeks each year on the road meeting with high school students and teachers and recruiting physics majors to Virginia Tech. The department’s number of majors has increased significantly in recent years, so much so that it needs to find larger classrooms outside of its home base in Robeson Hall.

“Diane’s presence in our department has made my work and the work of our faculty much more effective,” Simonetti said. “Students dramatically testify to Diane’s efforts on their part, and routinely tell the us how vital she has been to their success at Virginia Tech. I consider her as an indispensable colleague.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Catherine Doss.