Virginia Tech has been recognized as a 2020 Don Clifton Strengths for Students Award winner by the Gallup global analytics and advice firm. 

This new award recognizes colleges and universities that enable students to learn what they naturally do best and apply their strengths to thrive in school and all areas of their lives. Educational leaders at these institutions understand the importance of focusing on what's strong with students, not what's wrong.

“By making strengths a way of life, these exceptional institutions help students turn their talents into strengths and foster greater academic achievement, engagement, and wellbeing — setting them up to succeed far beyond the classroom,” the award announcement stated.

An article published by Gallup in March 2020 detailed how Virginia Tech uses CliftonStrengths for students. “By connecting strengths to the university’s five Aspirations for Student Learning, Virginia Tech has woven strengths into campus culture and made it a tool to help students answer difficult questions about who they are, who they want to be, and the unique way they can make a difference in the world.”

“Having knowledge of one’s strengths is empowering,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok. “This type of self-understanding can guide academic and personal decisions so that students can intentionally ExperienceVT and pursue what they want to do with their lives and who they want to become. When we think about our own strengths, we come to realize how they play such an important part in fulfilling our Aspirations, and how we can harness their power to embrace Ut Prosim as a way of life.”

In 2009 VT Student Affairs began using strengths as part of the development of the Aspirations for Student Learning. In 2013, Virginia Tech became the first university to partner with Gallup to make the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment available to all students, faculty, and staff campus-wide. Through the Virginia Tech Gallup Strengths Portal web portal, anyone at Virginia Tech can take the assessment once for free to identify their strengths, understand and learn how to use them, and develop goals and action plans based on the results.

Over the past seven years, 45,000 students, faculty, and staff have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment at Virginia Tech as a launching point for a life of service and invaluable conversations about identity, values, meaning, and purpose. 

“Talents offer incredible guidance for charting a successful and meaningful path,” said Taran Cardone, director of the Office for Learning Partnerships. “Everyone has unique talents that shape how they best grow and learn. We offer the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment at Virginia Tech so that Hokies can discover their talents and transform them into the strengths that will make them successful.” 

“Understanding your strengths also creates a deeper understanding of diversity, complementary strengths, and human interdependence,” Shushok added.

The Don Clifton Strengths for Students Award was added in 2020 to the existing Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award along with the new Culture Transformation and Don Clifton Strengths-Based Culture awards. Gallup account teams nominated their clients for these new award categories. Following the nomination, a judging panel reviewed the applications to determine the winners in each category.

Written by Sandy Broughton