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Michel Pleimling

Director of inclusion and diversity set new path for College of Science

Michel Pleimling has been named director of inclusion and diversity in the Virginia Tech College of Science, with a mission of helping create a faculty, student body, and community that is diverse and welcoming.

A professor of physics and director of the Academy of Integrated Science in the College of Science, Pleimling will plan, implement, coordinate, and assess the college’s continuing efforts in advancing inclusivity for, and diversity of, all college stakeholders, including students, faculty, and staff.

“Dr. Pleimling brings deep experience and true dedication to meeting the challenges that issues of inclusion and diversity present within academia,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science. “Working closely with our dedicated university partners, as well as our departmental diversity committees, he will lead our efforts to create a faculty, student body, and community, that is welcoming of the vast array of cultures and perspectives through which we strengthen ourselves, our work, and the world around us.”

Among the goals of the director is to advance diversity and inclusion at the student level by recruiting and retaining a diverse body of students, an effort aided by recruiting a diverse faculty and staff. At all programs within the college, a high value is placed on inclusion and cultural competence in the education of its 4,500 students, in addition to all students who take courses within the college. It is estimated that the college through its faculty and instructors teach an estimated 248,000 credits hours per year.

Diversity is among the college’s core values, which also include excellence and discovery, all built on the spirit of the university motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). As seen in the College of Science’s vision, mission, themes and values statement, “Diversity is an ethical, pragmatic, and essential component of science. Ethical in the sense that opportunity should be provided to all and such opportunity results in a more dynamic community of faculty, staff and students. Pragmatic as we must welcome all in order to attain a sufficient scientific workforce to tackle today’s many problems. Essential because inclusion of disciplines, ideas, insights, and values is fundamental for strong science.”

The College of Science’s core values rest on the Virginia Tech motto of Ut Prosim and the spirit of a land-grant institution pervades all that it does. The college imparts and models this fundamental mission of service to its students so they also will carry it forward in their professional and personal lives.

Prior to his new appointment, Pleimling was involved with two major initiatives aimed at advancing diversity on campus, with one initiative serving faculty and the other serving undergraduate students. He is a member of the AdvanceVT/InclusiveVT faculty committee, dedicated to institutionalize campus-wide and college-wide best practices for diversity recruitment and retention of faculty.

Pleimling has served on the University Curriculum for General Education / Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity Joint Subcommittee, which has reviewed the Pathways General Education Curriculum in order to find ways to incorporate diversity throughout the entire university.

“Diversity both of people and perspectives is the key to our goal of strengthening the college’s core mission of pursuing excellence in science and discovery,” said Pleimling. “Through my involvement in these initiatives I realized that much work remains to be done in order to achieve a truly diverse and inclusive campus and College of Science.”

“In the past year, I have witnessed the depth of Professor Pleimling’s commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion,” said Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity at Virginia Tech. “Consistent with InclusiveVT, his individual commitment has been exemplified through his service on the AdvanceVT/InclusiveVT Faculty Committee to advance faculty diversity, his support for the life science peer mentoring project for underrepresented and underserved students, and his advocacy and promotion of inclusive pedagogy with his College of Science peers.”