The Lavender Commencement Ceremony, which celebrates LGBT graduating students, will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 14, in Squires Student Center, Old Dominion Ballroom. 

The ceremony, sponsored by the LGBT Faculty-Staff Caucus and Multicultural Programs and Services, recognizes lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual students and their allies from across the university.

“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."

The ceremony is for students who will graduate in May or December of 2015 with an undergraduate or a graduate degree. 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 by May 1 at the LGBT Caucus website. Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and process in with the graduates.

Cordel Faulk, a political science alumnus who has served on Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors the last four years, will deliver the keynote address.

Currently Faulk serves as interim assistant dean for admissions at University of Virginia’s Law School. Prior to joining the University of Virginia’s Law School as its director of admissions in 2009, Faulk served as director of communications, media and research for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Faulk also has worked as an adjunct professor and pre-law adviser in Virginia Tech’s University Honors Program, and as an editor and columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He currently sits on the Virginia Historical Society Board of Trustees.

Faulk graduated from Virginia Tech summa cum laude in 1998 and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In law school at the University of Virginia, he worked as a student admissions recruiter, was a member of the Honor Committee and served on the Student Bar Association’s executive board. After law school, Faulk clerked for Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr. of the Eastern District of Virginia, then became an associate at Baker Botts in Dallas, and later at Hunton & Williams in Washington, D.C. 

Continuing its tradition of celebrating the arts, the ceremony will also feature Travis Whaley, a Virginia Tech student who is triple majoring in piano performance, music composition, and German language and literature, all in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Whaley participated in the 10-day International Johann Sebastian Bach competition last summer in Leipzig, Germany. He is also a University Honors student as well as a bilingual researcher who has studied the letters and sketchbooks of Ludwig van Beethoven in the Beethoven-Archiv, part of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

A $500 scholarship will be awarded to an undergraduate who has made contributions to the LGBT community through leadership, service, volunteering, or research. In addition, the Underwood Ally of the Year award will be presented.

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.

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.