Amanda Morris, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science, has received the university’s 2018 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. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize.
Morris, who is tenure-track faculty, is dedicated to serving as a role model and increasing diversity in the research enterprise of the Department of Chemistry. Only 17 percent of tenure-track positions in the U.S. are held by female faculty.
In addition to supporting the success of female students, she is working with Career Services to find meaningful employment for LGBT students in welcoming communities. Morris was the first-ever academic advisor of oSTEM (out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
“Prof. Morris’ engagement of the LGBT community does not stop with students; she has also served as co-chair of the LGBT Caucus of Faculty and Staff at Virginia Tech (a three-year position). Before becoming co-chair of the LGBT caucus, she was actively involved with that group as she developed and was the lead instructor in the Legal and Compliance Safe Zone Session for the LGBT Office,” wrote Diego Troya, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry.
Due to Morris’ advocacy, the College of Science hosted an undergraduate research mixer in 2016 to assist with the retention of underrepresented minority and undergraduate students. The mixer was a success and the College of Science is fully funding it biannually.
Morris developed laboratory experiments to enhance the curriculum of Roanoke City Public Schools. She also serves as a panelist for the Blue Ridge Highlands Science Fair, where students from socioeconomically disadvantaged regions of the commonwealth have a first opportunity to engage in STEM activities.
In 2014, she was awarded the College of Science Diversity Award.
— Written by Lindsey Grooms, Class of 2019