The Diversity and Inclusion Service Award was established in 2006 (as the Diversity Enhancement Award) to recognize outstanding diversity accomplishments of faculty, staff, and students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Nominees for the award should exemplify excellence in advancing the college's mission of promoting diversity in the college.

In 2013, separate categories were created for faculty, staff, and students; and in 2016, the service award for students was named the Randolph L. Grayson Outstanding CALS Diversity Scholar Award for graduating students.

The award includes a letter of commendation, a plaque, and a monetary gift of $500. Faculty and staff award recipients are recognized at the college's summer picnic, while students are recognized at graduation.

Picture of Mike Ellerbrock

Ellerbrock is a long-standing advocate for Diversity and Inclusion at all levels of Virginia Tech.

He regularly teaches in Virginia Tech’s Summer Academy for Non-Traditional Students; he mentors underrepresented minorities who are conducting summer undergraduate research projects, and supports Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, or MANNRS.  

Ellerbrock consistently advocates that the most sustainable ecosystems are the most biologically diverse, including human communities, institutions, and organizations.  

Due to Ellerbrock’s involvement in Virginia Tech’s Target-of-Talent Program, Agricultural and Applied Economics was able to recruit two new diverse faculty.

By meeting students where they are, listening those without voices, and championing diversity, Ellerbrock creates an open and inclusive environment that advances the reputation of CALS every day.

Picture of Sharron Williams

Williams works hard to increase her knowledge of diversity issues as much as possible. She has actively sought to stay informed and updated through training and workshops. Most notable is her participation in Advising Matters workshops at Virginia Tech and her choice to become a Safe Zone member for LGBTQ+ Mental Health.

Williams expresses the university motto of Ut Prosim in her personal life as well. She volunteers for multiple organizations in the community, including the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program, To Our House, and Micah’s Backpack.

The students Williams supports speak highly of her and praise her for making herself accessible to them. It is her dedication to the students of Virginia Tech that leads her to go above and beyond her prescribed duties to learn about and advocate for greater diversity and inclusion on campus and in her community.  

  • Faculty and staff nominees must be current employees in CALS.
  • Student nominees must be enrolled in a CALS undergraduate or graduate program and expected to graduate in the academic year of the award.
  • Self-nominations are encouraged.
  • Previous winners cannot apply in the same award category (faculty, staff, or student).
  • Letter of nomination (from the nominee or a second party)
  • Two letters of support from individuals familiar with the diversity contributions of the nominee
  • Submit a letter of nomination and two letters of support that clearly describe the nominee's contribution to the college's inclusion and diversity efforts.
  • The application deadline each year is April 1.

Award recipients will have demonstrated a thorough understanding of, appreciation for, and advocacy of diversity issues.

Successful nominees will have taken a leadership role at the the university, college, unit, department, or district level to improve the quality of life and service in the academic or the broader community. They will abide by and promote Virginia Tech's Principles of Community. They will have demonstrated excellence in one or more of the following:

  1. Actively seek to increase their knowledge of current inclusion and diversity topics through attending related classes, seminars, groups, events, and so on.
  2. Provide or actively participate in opportunities to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion within the community in which they live, study, or work. Examples: Host a party or event for their group and focus on, encourage, or invite people of diverse cultures to speak about their culture and life experiences. Invite a speaker to their community to talk about issues of diversity and inclusiveness that are important to the group. Arrange to take their group to an event that includes viewpoints different from the group's.
  3. Demonstrate a commitment to equity and fairness in the treatment of all, and ensure their access to opportunities and resources. Examples:  Actively support minorities that are being stereotyped by the media. Express their support of a fellow student or coworker who is not being included in an event because he or she is perceived as being unfit in some way.
  4. Speak on behalf of diversity in their community, unit, or department in order to promote understanding of and sensitivity to diversity issues among colleagues. Examples: Start a conversation about how to reduce jokes about stereotypes in your community. Ask group members if they feel more comfortable actively speaking against a stereotype or saying nothing, but wishing they had spoken.
  5. Assist in the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, staff, students, and volunteers.
  6. Conduct diversity research and scholarly activities that enhance the college's diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  • A committee consisting of members of the CALS Diversity Council will review the applications and make the award selections.
  • If there are no applications that demonstrate outstanding diversity accomplishments, the council reserves the right to not select a winner.

Send or deliver the award application packet to:

CALS Diversity Council
c/o Karen Barnhart
119 Hutcheson Hall

  • Isaac Magaña
    CALS Diversity Chair
  • Karen Barnhart
    CALS Diversity Council Recording Secretary