The fifth annual national Faculty Women of Color in the Academy Conference will be held at Virginia Tech April 2-3. Women of color scholars at all levels of their careers will attend.
"I am delighted that Virginia Tech is hosting the fifth annual Faculty Women of Color in the Academy conference,” said Menah Pratt-Clarke, Tech's vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity. “Our goal this year is to help women connect with one another, support each other, and leave empowered to continue to succeed in the academy. As one former participant said, 'This conference saved my life!'"
The national planning committee has created a dynamic program that includes professional development workshops, networking socials, and mentor development sessions customized for administrators, faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates.
This year's theme Say (Her, Their, Our) Name is especially impactful and relevant given the national landscape in education, economics, and politics. Women of color need opportunities to come together to uplift one another and build lasting professional connections that will strengthen our communities.
As Virginia Tech celebrates Black History Month and Women’s History Month, now is the time to reflect on the advancements, contributions, and challenges of women of color in the academy.
"I have been a part of this conference since its beginning and have observed over the years how valuable it is for the underrepresented faculty women who attend,” said Pratt-Clarke.
This year’s conference honors the legacy of the late Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, vice president for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech from 2005 through 2008. In her three years at the university, Hikes made numerous contributions to the quality of student life on campus, including the establishment of Hokie Camp. She is especially remembered for her leadership following the tragic events of April 16, 2007.
Hikes died in October 2008 at the age of 53. The conference will commemorate Hikes by giving the first Faculty Women of Color in the Academy award in her name.
The conference program includes a lineup of outstanding keynote speakers, including Virginia Tech’s Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor.
“Giovanni is a national treasure, American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, and we are honored to have her presence during this conference,” Pratt-Clarke said.
Other keynote speakers include Melissa Harris-Perry, professor and Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, and Henrietta Mann, Tsetsehestaestse (Cheyenne), retired founding president of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College. Harris-Perry also directs the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, and the Pro Humanitate Institute at Wake Forest University.
Mann was the first individual to occupy the Katz Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at Montana State University-Bozeman, where she is now professor emerita. She was named by Rolling Stone Magazine in 1991 as one of the 10 leading professors in the nation.
The conference continues its partnership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, founded by Kerry Ann Rockquemore.
This year, the center offers two Mentoring 101 workshops for faculty and graduate student audiences. Joy Gaston Gayles, associate professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, will facilitate these workshops.
Deloitte sponsors the conference. College and university sponsors include University of Louisville and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, both Atlantic Coast Conference counterparts; the University of Chicago; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Radford University. Colleges and units at Virginia Tech also contribute support to the event.