Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative

As an academic entity, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies is identified with insightful planning, place-making, community, creative design, and visual and construction arts. Through these physical and visual arts, we put into play the concepts and applications that encourage, build, and embrace the multi-cultural diversity of our world.

Members of our educational community have been working hard to address prominent issues in our society. According to strategic plan surveys, issues related to equity and inclusion are a top priority for us moving forward. As part of the ongoing efforts to formalize the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the College, an Advisory Committee has been created with representation from faculty, staff and students across CAUS.

This important group is just one part of a larger goal across the university towards a more responsible and accountable educational atmosphere. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Committee for Students, Staff, and Faculty will be a thought-partner to foster open and transparent communication with college senior leadership, working to promote and make progress on strategic priorities related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The committee will also promote connections and alignment of needs, priorities and goals of students, staff and faculty across the college, stressing the importance of, and the college’s collective commitment to, this work.


We are in the midst of radical social change: a global pandemic, a national social justice crisis, and environmental and climate shifts.

Now, more than ever, we must address racism, economic inequality, and bias and discrimination based on identity.

Now, more than ever, we need the innovation and creativity of diverse teams to solve global problems.

Now, more than ever, we must reimagine how we identify, develop, and value talent.

Now, more than ever, we must create more equitable opportunity and access to education.

Now, more than ever, diversity, equity, and inclusion must guide our decisions.

Now, more than ever, we need to create a more just and inclusive society.

The InclusiveVT Difference can make a difference.

Read more here.

DEI Definitions

Diversity: The individual and group differences among people. These include “individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviors (SHRM Business Plan for Diversity).” These differences are important qualities that we engage and value as we work and learn together in CAUS.

Equity: The social right to just and fair treatment for all people. Within CAUS, equity is an organizational expectation, ensuring that everyone has the resources and opportunities needed to succeed in every stage of education and career development. To achieve equity, we actively identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of marginalized individuals and groups. (Adapted from the original developed at UC Berkeley)

Inclusion: The act of creating environments in which all individuals or groups feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued as fully participating members. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. Inclusion integrates diversity and equity into the culture of CAUS, embedding these shared values into the core academic mission and institutional functioning. (Adapted from the original developed at UC Davis)

Culture: Refers to the traditions, beliefs, and values of an individual or a group of people, both observable and invisible. Culture should be defined broadly and recognize that the intersectionality between cultural elements such as race, gender, sexual orientation, language, and ethnicity contribute to a person’s sense of self in relation to others, shaping the individual’s personal identity and sense of own culture. (CAUS, DEI Committee, 2021)

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College Statement on January 6 attacks in Washington, DC

Dear CAUS colleagues,

The storming and desecration of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 by a violent mob represents an attack on one of our most cherished institutions of democracy. Democracy is a form of government that allows for peaceful protest and wondering aloud about the direction of the country but disavows the undermining of a peaceful transition of power or disfranchising the popular vote by an angry crowd. The attempt to prevent our elected representatives from certifying the legal results of a national election by resorting to mayhem and violence was without justification and propelled by regrettable misinformation articulated by politicians who should know better. These scenes and events are deeply troubling in that they have provided Americans a glimpse of the possibility of the end of democracy.

As academics, we the undersigned wish to reaffirm the value of democracy, and the importance of knowledge and truth in establishing and preserving it. The generation of knowledge and the pursuit of truth are fundamental to the continuing pursuit of a free, peaceful and just society. Art, architecture, policy and construction are ways to know and understand our world so that we can build it better. At CAUS, we are committed to being an academic institution that uses the knowledge and skills specific to our disciplines to encourage the development of a critically aware, socially just, and responsible citizenry. We also pledge that we stand against injustice and violence in our daily practice and believe that all Hokies can and should do the same.

Richard Blythe, Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Aaron Betsky, Director of the School of Architecture + Design

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Director of the School of Public and International Affairs

Brian Kleiner, Director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction

Ann-Marie Knoblauch, Interim Director of the School of Visual Arts

CAUS Diversity Committee Events Archive


There are no events currently scheduled. Check back later for updates, or email causdei@vt.edu to have your event posted here.


The Virginia Tech Principles of Community are the foundations for how we run our college. Click here for more info.


Composed of student ambassadors and faculty from programs across the college. Questions, concerns or suggestions? Email: causdei@vt.edu


Cecily Rodriguez


  • Kathryn Albright
  • Rob Jacks
  • Vern Ferguson
  • Cathryn Copper
  • Paul Emmons
  • Susan Roseborough
  • Faith Patton
  • Tracey Drowne
  • Natalia Smith
  • Paola Zellner Bassett
  • Elif Tural
  • Nate Heavers
  • Josh Iorio
  • Abiola Akanmu
  • Meredith Drum
  • Nate King
  • Theo Lim
  • David Bieri


  • Briana Traut, A+D
  • Johnson Olayiwola, MLSoC
  • Ninoska Bertran-Turcios, SOVA
  • Zuleka Woods, SPIA