Diversity and Inclusion

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VA-MD Vet Med) is committed to diversity and to fostering an inclusive environment to promote learning and growth for all members of our community.

Programs and Initiatives

  • Our community is committed to practicing and upholding the Virginia Tech Principles of Community.
  • Services for Students with Disabilities assists students with disabilities and personal and environmental issues that may interfere with full access to academics and/or hinder academic performance.
  • Our chapter of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE) is a student-run organization that promotes the sociocultural awareness of veterinary students on a local and national level through diversity-themed programs, events, and community outreach. Contact VOICE at voicevmcvm@gmail.com, and follow VOICE on Instagram.
  • We create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ students by participating in the Virginia Tech Cultural and Community Centers' SafeZone program.
  • Through participation in the DiVersity Matters initiative of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, we passionately engage in the recruitment, enrollment, matriculation, and development of a diverse student body.
  • The college's VetTRAC Summer Program, a week-long exploration of vet school and careers in veterinary medicine, aims to teach, inspire, mentor, engage, excite, and enlighten students from underrepresented populations wgi are interested in veterinary medicine. In turn, the program promotes diversity and inclusion within both the college and the veterinary profession.
  • To learn more about Virginia Tech's university-wide diversity programs and resources, visit InclusiveVT.

Community and Diversity Committee

Members of the Community and Diversity Committee are appointed by the dean to two-year terms, and members elect a chair who serves a two-year term. The committee's charge is as follows:

  • Periodically assess the climate of the college and make recommendations to the Executive Board to promote recruitment and retention of students, staff, and faculty from underrepresented populations.
  • Conduct an annual review of the College Diversity Plan and submit a report to the Executive Board detailing outcomes and recommending revisions to the plan.

Committee membership

  • Phil Sponenberg (chair), Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
  • Ajit Aryal, DVM student
  • Charlotte Baker, Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences
  • Telvin Harrell, graduate student
  • Becky Jones, Program Assistant, Department of Population Health Sciences
  • Margie Lee, Department Head, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
  • Jacque Pelzer, Director of DVM Admissions and Student Services
  • Megan Shepherd, Clinical Assistant Professor, Large Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Ben Tham, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
  • Vacant, Master of Public Health student


For more information about diversity and inclusion initiatives at VA-MD Vet Med, please contact:

Professor of Pathology/Genetics
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Chair, VA-MD Vet Med Community and Diversity Committee
Phone: 540-231-4805
Clinical Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
Representative, InclusiveVT
Phone: 540-231-6041