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Inclusion & Diversity

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Let’s do this good work together

In the College of Natural Resources and Environment, we have the privilege — and imperative — of developing and sustaining future leaders who will be the change in our efforts to preserve and maintain a sustainable planet. Tackling the overwhelmingly complex issues at the heart of this mission means that every voice must be heard and every contribution welcomed.

Our culture is one of acceptance, positivity, and pushing each other to succeed. There are ample opportunities to connect around common interests and learn about our differences — from getting to know people on the van rides that are part of field experiences, to rich panel discussions on professional and personal development topics that are open to the entire college community.

We are a group of passionate people who want to make a difference and who believe in the power of each individual.

Meet Maryam Kamran, CNRE’s director of inclusion and diversity

Headshot of Maryam Kamran

Maryam Kamran has joined the College of Natural Resources and Environment as the director of inclusion and diversity. Her hiring reflects the college’s commitment to fostering greater representation in the fields of natural and environmental sciences.

“For a program that values ecological diversity and understands the strength, resilience, and beauty of diversity in the natural world, we have an opportunity to take the lead in embracing diversity and inclusion,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of the college. “We are excited to have Dr. Kamran contribute to that effort.”

Kamran is tasked with leading inclusion and diversity initiatives within the college and teaching courses that examine identity and equity through the lens of natural resources and the environment. She serves as a member the dean’s leadership team and will work on initiatives across the college’s four departments.

Want to connect with Maryam? Stop by her office in Cheatham 234A if you are on campus; you can also reach her at maryamk@vt.edu or 540-231-6946.

“I want to reaffirm that as a college community, we are committed to supporting and upholding equality, respect, kindness, and dignity and will not accept or tolerate behaviors and actions that do not uphold and honor each individual. We know from our work in natural resources that diversity is a strength that brings resilience to natural systems. And it is beautiful.”

-Paul M. Winistorfer, dean of the college

We are committed to learning, understanding, and doing the work

We have all learned so much about our levels of awareness, sensitivities, and actions in relation to racial inequality in our nation, state, and community and on the Virginia Tech campus. And, still, we have so much more to learn, hear, understand, and amend. We remain committed to doing the work that will contribute to an inclusive and diverse environment and community in the college and at the university.

We have compiled a summary of some of the actions that have been taken and are in progress as part of our work to be more inclusive and diverse. We know these initiatives are a start and this effort must continue. We must not squander the opportunity we have to make the world a better place not only in relation to how we sustainably manage resources but also in how we respect and treat each other.

Recent college activities directed at increasing and improving inclusion and diversity include actions in the following areas:

Last summer the college began working with Virginia Tech’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity, to secure funding to hire a director of inclusion and diversity for the college. After a robust search and interview process, Maryam Kamran was hired as the college’s first director of inclusion and diversity and began work in January 2021.

Virginia Tech’s Pathways for General Education curriculum includes the Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the U.S. minor. The college’s new director of inclusion and diversity will teach two courses within this curriculum.

College faculty members have been receiving training funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute aimed at promoting more inclusive teaching and curricula, as well as mentoring to students from diverse backgrounds.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation now offers a human dimensions option for students majoring in both fish conservation and wildlife conservation.

The college actively participates in the Black College Institute for high school students each summer. We have been complimented for offering one of the best hands-on sessions during the institute, and we have seen a number of students from the program apply for admission to the college.

The InsideTREES camp was offered in summer 2019, primarily for minority and female high school students.

College faculty participated in the organization and delivery of a program for students in Jr. MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences) in summer 2019 in cooperation with Virginia State University.

These efforts and others have contributed to CNRE’s most diverse freshman class ever for fall 2020, with 17% of the incoming students being underrepresented minorities. While we still have work to do to reach the university’s strategic goal of 25% underrepresented minority students for fall 2022, we are making progress. The new director of inclusion and diversity will be assisting with recruitment efforts to attract more underrepresented students as well as underrepresented faculty and staff to the college.


We are exploring a new undergraduate major in urban natural resources as well as a new professional master’s degree in the area of environmental security that will be offered through the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability. We anticipate that these new academic programs will appeal to individuals who wish to work and live in urban environments. These programs also have the potential to benefit urban environments and their inhabitants and serve as an avenue to recruit a more diverse student body and faculty to the college.

We have so much opportunity in this college to proactively create course and curricular innovation to be inclusive of concepts of race, inequality, and social justice. The students in our classrooms are our future, and, if we want a better world, nation, state, community, and campus, we must include them in our dialogue and in our actions. We must hear their voices. We must make time for them. We must be deliberate.

Get connected with your community

Virginia Tech and CNRE offer plenty of opportunities for finding your people and making new connections.

More resources to help you succeed

Check out some additional resources for finding your niche and accomplishing your goals. More scholarship opportunities for CNRE students are listed on the Scholarships page.

Advising Center: Your CNRE advisor can help you choose and register for courses, consider major options, find hands-on learning opportunities, and ensure you are progressing toward graduation.

Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP): LSAMP offers a College Transition Program, research funding, career development assistance, and faculty mentors, all with the overall goal of encouraging more students to pursue and persist in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS): This student organization promotes careers in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences by providing scholarship, research, and networking opportunities.

Student Success Center: Virginia Tech’s Student Success Center offers tutoring, peer coaching, and seminars on academic success, and spearheads the Black Male Excellence Network.

Services for Students with Disabilities (SDD): If you need access to facilitative technologies and programming, an advocate to help you navigate or participate in some aspect of campus life, assistance with transition into the workplace, or other types of services, contact SSD.

ExperienceVT: Don’t just come to Virginia Tech, ExperienceVT! We encourage you to explore, practice, and live the Aspirations for Student Learning to make this experience your own and become your best self — both inside and outside of the classroom.

InclusiveVT: As an institution and as individuals, we are committed to the university motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence. Learn more about events and programs like the Principles of Community Week.

Living-Learning Programs: These unique housing options integrate what you study, where you live, and who you live with, bringing together people with a common interest, experience, or outlook.

Hokie Wellness: We want all Hokies to be healthy and happy, so Hokie Wellness helps students make healthy decisions and live healthy lives by providing workshops, outreach, and individual consultations.    

Beyond Boundaries Scholars: Launched in 2016, this scholarship program is designed to encourage the enrollment of high-achieving students from underserved communities.

Dean’s Diversity Assistantships: These funding opportunities assist underrepresented students who are pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees but did not attend Virginia Tech as undergraduates.

McNair Assistantships: These one-year assistantships provide funding to master’s and doctoral students who participated in the McNair Scholars Program as undergraduates.

Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP): This program assists both undergraduate and graduate students in their transition to Virginia Tech by providing academic, emotional, social, and financial support.

Still in high school? Experience life as a Hokie and get ready to apply

In addition to our regular campus tours and CNRE info session, you might want to consider: