Ansley Abraham, founding director of the Southern Regional Education Board's State Doctoral Scholars Program, will give the keynote address at Virginia Tech's 2015 Graduate School Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 15.

The event will begin at noon at Cassell Coliseum, located on the university's Blacksburg campus. Approximately 1,000 Virginia Tech graduate students are expected to complete their degree requirements this spring and participate in the ceremony.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Abraham serve as the speaker for the Graduate School Commencement,” said Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw. 

In interviews, Abraham has called himself a product of the 1950s and 1960s, and said that segregation during that time and integration efforts shaped his world view.

Under Abraham’s direction, the Southern Regional Education Board established a program in 1993 to increase the number of minority Ph.D.’s seeking careers as college faculty members. Since its founding, the  organization's State Doctoral Scholars Program has served more than 1,300 scholars at 97 institutions in 28 states, with more than 400 scholars enrolled currently and almost 800 program graduates.

The program annually hosts the nation’s largest gathering of minority Ph.D. scholars at the annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. Abraham has said the Institute grew out of a two-year study identifying the barriers underrepresented students encounter when seeking doctoral degrees.

 “Dr. Abraham is a strong advocate for the importance and value added of a diverse professoriate,” DePauw said. “His message is one of inclusion and his experiences have helped universities in the Southern Region to enhance their educational opportunities for all.”

Abraham’s research includes studies on statewide assessment and placement standards, and on the need for developmental education for students entering college. He also has examined campus climate as perceived by students at both historically black and predominantly white higher education institutions. The data from that study provided the basis for recommendations to help colleges identify areas of concern in their efforts to promote multicultural and inviting campus environments, and increase diversity.

Abraham earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree from Florida State University.

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.