Crasha Townsend has been named the interim director of Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR) at Virginia Tech.

In her new role, Townsend will lead the initiative set forth to achieve the 25 percent underrepresented minority student enrollment goals of Project 2022 and to promote the academic and personal achievement of underrepresented minority students within the unique climate and culture of academic colleges.

The SOAR program supports Virginia Tech's strategic goals by working with entities across campus, from colleges and academic departments to Enrollment Management and the Division of Student Affairs, to help students who are underrepresented.

The program is in line with Virginia Tech’s goal to become more diverse. By 2022, the university aims to increase its population of underrepresented and underserved students to 40 percent, which includes minorities, first-generation college students, and those from low-income households.

“We are fortunate to be able to bring in someone with Townsend’s experience to fill this role. As we seek to build even stronger collaborations with campus partners in support of our students, her presence will be invaluable to the university’s pursuit of inclusive excellence,” said Ellington Graves, assistant provost for inclusion and diversity.

In her new role, Townsend will work directly with students to connect them with university resources and opportunities, from job placement to landing internships and studying abroad.

“I am excited to join Virginia Tech and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity at such a pivotal time, where I can make a positive impact on the student experience and aid in reaching the goals of Project 2022. I am eager to partner with colleges, faculty, staff, and students to create opportunities and identify resources that will both encourage and support underrepresented minority students during their journey at Virginia Tech, and beyond,” Townsend said.

Townsend has dedicated more than 15 years to a career in higher education, specifically focused on social justice and leadership development. She serves as a consultant in higher education and small business development. She has worked to foster large-scale diversity initiatives and provided community outreach at both private and public institutions, such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Radford University, and Washington and Lee University. She has successfully implemented an intergroup dialogue living-learning community, developed a peer-based multicultural advocacy curriculum and program, and facilitated diversity education for campus and the greater community. She has provided dynamic leadership in rebuilding and branding diversity initiatives on campus as she oversaw a portfolio that included student leadership, Greek life, diversity and inclusion, student clubs and organizations, and Student Media.

Townsend has held national roles in student affairs with her work within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), an international organization rooted in research and practice. She is the co-director and founder of the Ujima Institute for professional development of African American administrators in higher education that is hosted through NASPA.

Townsend served two terms as the national chair for the African American Knowledge Community. She also is a faculty member for African American Women’s Summit and has served NASPA on the Multicultural Institute planning committee, NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program national and regional boards, and with the Division for Equity and Inclusion.

Townsend brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and energy in promoting social justice and leadership development throughout higher education and within her local community. Her undergraduate work in integrated public relations at Central Michigan University, her masters in higher education administration with an emphasis on college student affairs leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Northwest Nazarene University have served as a strong foundation. She is involved in several community agencies that allow her to pursue her passion of service. She is a member of the Junior League and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.  

For more information on SOAR, visit https://www.inclusive.vt.edu/Programs/SOAR.html.