Randolph Grayson, coordinator of the George Washington Carver Graduate Assistantship Program and professor emeritus of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, has received the university’s 2017 Presidential Principles of Community Award.
The award was established in 2013 by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, now the Office of the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity, to recognize faculty and staff members who exemplify and promote a welcoming and inclusive environment in accordance with the university’s Principles of Community. One staff and one faculty member are selected annually by the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. Each receives a $2,000 cash prize.
The George Washington Carver Program was started seven years ago to encourage students from historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, students from the Appalachian region, and nontraditional students to enroll in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' graduate programs. At its inception, there were only three students enrolled, but Grayson’s efforts as coordinator of the program have resulted in 24 students enrolling.
Grayson also established the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program in 1993, which promotes the diversification of Virginia Tech and provides opportunities through academic workshops, financial assistance, and the chance to connect with peers from various organizations and institutions. He has been involved with more than 30 committees at Virginia Tech, many focused on the principles of diversity and inclusion.
“Over the past 2-3 decades, Dr. Grayson has fostered a welcoming climate for all underrepresented groups at Virginia Tech and has had the vision and drive to initiate and implement effective programs to bring that vision to reality. It is hard to discuss the history of diversity and inclusion at virginia Tech without acknowledging the tremendous efforts of Dr. Grayson.” Saied Mostahimi, associate dean for research and graduate studies and director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, wrote in a letter of nomination.
In national rankings of majority institutions based on the increase of diverse students, Grayson’s leadership of diversity initiatives moved the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences from not being listed to No. 3 in the nation. In 2013, Grayson received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Diversity Enhancement Award.