The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus at Virginia Tech is sponsoring the 6th Annual Lavender Commencement Ceremony, which will be held May 15 at 11 a.m. in the Old Dominion Ballroom at Squires Student Center. 

The ceremony recognizes lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual students and their allies from all majors, both graduate students and undergraduates.

“The Lavender Commencement Ceremony is a celebration of the academic achievements of LGBT students here at Virginia Tech," said Chad Mandala, co-chair of the caucus and residential learning coordinator in student affairs. "It also affords us a wonderful opportunity to recognize key alumni and our allies."

Bruce C. Carver, a finance alumnus who was listed among the top-100 information technology executives by Computerworld magazine in 2000, will deliver the keynote address. He received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1983 and went on to earn a Master of Business Administration in human resources and organizational development from DePaul University in Chicago in 2000. 

Carver spent several years in manager roles with Hills department stores before focusing his career in information technology, initially with the federal government and then in leadership roles with five different U.S. companies: Household International/HSBC; Reynolds & Reynolds; Pepsico Beverages and Foods; Dana Corporation; and most recently with Cummins, where he developed global information technology strategy and oversaw program execution and services. Since leaving Cummins in 2013, Carver has focused his time on a family project as well as several non-profit organizations.

Carver is on the Board of Directors for Lourdes University; the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, and N-Power Indiana Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Executive Leadership Council; the Information Technology Senior Management Forum; the Society of Information Management; the National Black MBA Association and the Project Management Institute.

Continuing its rich tradition of celebrating the arts, the Lavender ceremony will also feature Richard Masters, an instructor in the Department of Music in the School of Performing Arts. Praised by critics as “extraordinary” and "astounding,” Masters is a soloist, opera coach, chamber musician and orchestral pianist. Masters, who serves as chair of the diversity committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, received his doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, his master’s from the Juilliard School, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The annual Ally of the Year award will be given to Jo Ann Underwood, who served the university for 20 years as health educator. Underwood, 84, was a strong advocate for safe sex and birth control at Virginia Tech. Caring and open-minded, Underwood was the first faculty-staff person to serve as advisor to the student group, Lambda Horizon. She also initiated a peer education health program.

The Lavender Commencement Ceremony is for those students who identify with the LGBT community; who will graduate in May or December of 2014 either with an undergraduate or a graduate degree; and their families, faculty, staff, and allies. Graduates are asked to have a mentor speak on their behalf. Participating students will be awarded a rainbow cord that can be worn with academic regalia. Participants are requested to register at the LGBT Caucus website. Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and process in with the graduates.

A $500 scholarship will also be awarded to an undergraduate who has made contributions to the LGBT community through leadership, service, volunteering, or research. Juniors in good academic standing are encouraged to apply before May 1 on the caucus website.

With a visitor’s pass, parking is available in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, or the Architecture Annex Lot also on Otey Street. Parking meters within the Squires Lot will need to be paid. A visitor’s pass may be obtained Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Visitor Information Center, located at 965 Prices Fork Road, near the intersection of Prices Fork and University City Boulevard next to the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.