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The University of Virginia Finds Strength in Differences

We sat down for a conversation with UVA's VP of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

By Livability on October 19, 2022

Charlottesville VA
Charlottesville / Photo Courtesy of University of Virginia

The University of Virginia continues to be a leader in the diversity and inclusion space. The university welcomes students from more than 100 countries, and minorities comprise one-third of the student body. Livability spoke with Kevin McDonald, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion and community partnerships, about the university’s commitment to diversity on and off campus.

Headshot of Kevin McDonald, from UVA in Central Virginia.

Kevin McDonald
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion & Community Partnerships
University of Virginia

Why is creating a welcoming and inclusive environment important for students’ success?

Students are coming to universities like UVA with different perspectives of the world, different ideologies and different lived experiences. Our job is to equip them with the ability to navigate and appreciate those differences.

How do you make diversity and inclusion intentional among the university’s student population and staff?

There are so many ways. For instance, we partner with our Center for Teaching Excellence to make sure we’re creating inclusive courses and supporting our faculty by creating inclusive classrooms. In our [DEI] division, we make sure that we’re partnering on signature events around important cultural month programming. Most importantly for me is being able to lean into co-creation — working with students themselves to support desired outcomes around diversity, equity and inclusion that they believe will create a stronger sense of belonging.

How does UVA’s work around diversity and inclusion carry over into the community?

One of the areas that has been important for the university is the creation of the President’s Council on UVA-Community Partnerships. Creating strong community partnerships is important in areas like affordable housing or the local economy, or talent pipelines and pathways. … It allows us to be as creative and innovative as possible to make the region stronger.

If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia

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