Virginia Tech names interim director for the Black Cultural Center
February 25, 2021
Crasha Townsend has been named interim director of the Black Cultural Center (BCC) effective Feb. 25. She will be replacing Tyler Brentley, who will be leaving the university at the end of this month and had served as the center’s director since March 2020.
Townsend will actually be serving in a multirole capacity, leading efforts for the BCC, Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR), and the Black College Institute (BCI) concurrently. SOAR is a holistic support program dedicated to welcoming and retaining underrepresented minority students at Virginia Tech. The BCI is a four-day academic, summer-enrichment program hosted by Virginia Tech targeting talented, high-achieving, and academically curious high school juniors and seniors.
Reporting to the Office for Inclusion and Diversity in her BCC role, Townsend will support the university's ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts by developing programs, events, and services that facilitate the personal, social, academic, and cultural well-being of Black and African American students, faculty, and staff. Her responsibilities will also include supporting the Ujima Living-Learning Community.
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion will conduct a search for a permanent replacement in the near future, with Erica Cooper, assistant provost for faculty diversity serving as chair. Additionally, an internal study of the BCC will be conducted, with the resulting insights used to inform the future direction of the center. A program coordinator will be brought on to support the center’s agenda and assist Townsend.
“I am deeply appreciative for Dr. Townsend’s willingness to serve in this interim capacity,” said Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and diversity. “Her deeply dedicated work ethic for Virginia Tech, her longstanding commitment to students of color, and her strong leadership ability will enable her to effectively steward the Black Cultural Center through this transitional period.”
At Virginia Tech, Townsend’s leadership with SOAR and the BCI has bolstered the recruitment and retention efforts of students of color. Through her work, she has been invested in partnering with colleges, departments, and student organizations for academic excellence, advocacy, and community building. 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 also the co-director and founder of the Ujima Institute, which fosters professional development of African American administrators in higher education and is hosted through NASPA.
As a reflection of her activist roots, 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.
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 serve as a foundation.
Committed to advocacy, Townsend 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.