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Susanna C. Rinehart named new director of education for diversity and inclusion


BLACKSBURG, Va., March 13, 2009 – The Office for Equity and Inclusion at Virginia Tech has named Susanna C. Rinehart, associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts and former assistant provost for Liberal Education and University Studies, as its director of education for diversity and inclusion.

In this position, Rinehart will be responsible for providing leadership, vision, and direction to the development, coordination, and facilitation of a broad range of programs and initiatives designed to expand Virginia Tech’s commitment to being an inclusive, diverse, and engaged learning, living, and working environment – including the creation of a diversity development institute for faculty and staff.

Rinehart, who started in the position at the end of January said, “I am excited and energized to be joining my colleagues in the Office for Equity and Inclusion. I look forward to new and continuing partnerships with individuals and units across the university in our collective efforts toward inclusive excellence at Virginia Tech. Nationally, diversity and inclusion are increasingly understood to be central imperatives of 21st century higher education. I believe we have all the raw material – i.e., the will and the people -- we need for Virginia Tech to move forward.”

Rinehart has already begun meeting with faculty and staff across the university and scheduling diversity development workshops. As part of her new role, Rinehart is also leading the development of the 2008-2012 Diversity Strategic Plan, utilizing the inclusive excellence framework in structuring the content, developing definitions, goals, targets, and measures.

She is also spearheading the creation of an undergraduate human diversity and community requirement, following the recommendations of the Task Force on Race and the Institution, a spring 2007 Student Government Association resolution, and supported by the 2006-2012 University Strategic Plan. This past June, she led a campus team to the Association of American Colleges and Universities Greater Expectations Institute in Utah; while there, the team developed an initial action plan, which is now being implemented by a university-wide faculty work group with the support of the provost and vice provost.

In partnership with Kwame Harrison, assistant professor of sociology and africana studies, Rinehart received a College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences diversity grant for “Stage a Change,” a documentary theatre project on classroom and campus climate to be used for faculty and student development and dialogue on issues of diversity and inclusion at Virginia Tech.

Rinehart has a long history of involvement in university leadership and service, including being a founding member of the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, a Multicultural Fellow since 2003, longtime member and past president of the Faculty Senate, a trained mediator for the University Conflict Resolution Program, chair of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, member of University Council, the University Curriculum Committee for Liberal Education, and faculty representative to the Board of Visitors.

Rinehart joined Virginia Tech’s theatre arts faculty in 1999. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Rinehart was on the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rinehart received her bachelor's degree and M.F.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.