Sept. 12-25, 2003
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New welcome mat rolled out for graduate students

Casteen appoints three new vice provosts
Gomez sees blend of knowledge as key
Students’ voices add drama to diversity program
Valerie Gregory: Networking builds diversity
A new model: Architecture School combines disciplines
Book, program get children off to a great start in school
‘Roads Taken’ exhibit: 20th-century prints and drawings from museum’s collection
Tuesday Evening Concert Series opens season
Cyclist pushes her limits
Valerie Gregory: Networking builds diversity
Admission counselors Carolyn Livingston (left) and Ryan Hargraves (right) assist Valerie Gregory with outreach efforts to recruit minority students.
Photo by Peggy Harrison
Admission counselors Carolyn Livingston (left) and Ryan Hargraves (right) assist Valerie Gregory with outreach efforts to recruit minority students.

By Anne Bromley

When Valerie Gregory came to Charlottesville in 1980, fresh out of Hampton College, to teach in elementary school, she never expected to end up working at U.Va. It was a place local black people referred to as “the big white house” or “the plantation.”

But after 20 years, half of that time spent as a principal, she felt it was time for a change. A friend told her about a job opening at the University. Gregory applied and has been working in the admissions office as director of outreach for minority recruitment for four years. She’s part of a “sister circle” of African-American women faculty and staff who get together after work, and she’s been involved in U.Va.’s diversity efforts all along.

Networking has served her well, and Gregory would like to see the University create more networking opportunities for employees, students and local residents, as well as potential applicants and their families. She and her husband, who graduated from U.Va. Law School, like finding ways to reach out, she said. Every year they “adopt” a law student, for example, and help her or him get to know the community.

Gregory didn’t let the warnings she heard about U.Va. deter her from going to the Curry School of Education. She earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision, which led to her eventually becoming principal of Clark Elementary School.

“At Curry, I found the professors and students very open. It was a good experience.”

She knows, however, that it’s not always easy for African Americans and other minorities to make connections here.

“There’s a lot of support for diversity herse — at the top, President [John T. ] Casteen, Dean of Admission Jack Blackburn and others — but we’re still struggling to get there,” she said.

The latest round of diversity efforts seems more promising, Gregory said, calling the 2002 Envision Diversity program “a springboard that’s been extremely helpful.”

She found the reception for minorities, organized by Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs, last fall a great networking event. She said African Americans were asking each other how they got their jobs at U.Va. and saying it happened as a result of somebody telling somebody else about a job possibility — networking.

Gregory said she hopes to see more of these kinds of connections being created on Grounds and with the local community.


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