Focus on Faculty: William E. Monroe
Monroe leads the charge on diversity issues at the college
When not seeing patients in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s internal medicine service or conducting research on endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, William E. Monroe is searching for new ways to make the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine a more diverse and inclusive place.
Monroe, who is a professor of internal medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, has taken on many leadership roles in the college’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. He was a member of the college’s original committee on diversity and is the chair of the current committee.
“I got started after an incident happened in class where someone made a comment that offended a student that I really didn’t know how to deal with,” Monroe explained. He then attended an on-campus training to be better informed about how to respond in future situations.
After learning about gaps in the college’s recruitment of underrepresented populations, Monroe decided to attend conferences and speak with student groups about diversity recruiting. He also connected the college with Virginia Tech’s Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP). Founded in 1993, MAOP helps promote the diversification of the Virginia Tech campus as a whole.
Recently, Monroe also completed the coursework and training to receive the Diversity Development Institute’s Diversity Ally Certificate and the Certificate for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a former chair of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges Diversity Committee.
Monroe joined the veterinary college in 1986. He currently serves as the faculty advisor for the college’s chapter of Veterinary Students as One In Culture and Ethnicity, or VOICE, a student-run organization that promotes socio-cultural awareness and diversity efforts on campus through activities and speaking engagements.
“The biggest thing is to provide support and an appropriate climate for diversity and for diverse people — students, staff, faculty — within the college,” he explained. Monroe continued, “I’m not an expert in the scholarship of diversity, but there are a fair number of studies to show there are benefits, at least at a high school, undergraduate level, of having diversity and discussions of diversity in the classroom.”
Throughout his career, Monroe has also worked with Virginia Tech, Radford University, and local schools to promote the veterinary college and recruit typically underrepresented populations in the veterinary field. Monroe is also board certified in small animal internal medicine from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and holds numerous professional memberships, including with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Society of Phi Zeta.
Today, Monroe is working with Dean Cyril Clarke and members of the college’s Community and Diversity Committee to reinvigorate diversity efforts at the college, including updating the original action plan and hosting mandatory micro-aggression training for all faculty and staff. Working with Michele Deramo of the Diversity Development Institute, Monroe and a subcommittee of the Community and Diversity Committee helped guide the preparation of a 50-minute training session that was offered four times throughout the 2016 spring semester, including an online option of a taped session. The committee plans to continue offering diversity training tailored to meet the college’s specific needs next year as well. Moreover, the committee hopes to establish a mechanism for looking into these micro-aggressions when they occur with a designated group of individuals to investigate and respond.
When hiring new faculty or staff, a trained diversity advocate will be included on all recruitment committees to both make sure search committee members understand their “unconscious bias” and to expand searches to include more underrepresented applicants.
Monroe emphasized the importance of continued efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the veterinary field specifically. Because veterinarians serve the public, it is important for current and future members of the profession to understand the diverse experiences of that public, he said.
He expanded, “[It] certainly can make a difference in terms of your ability to provide service, and I think that’s very important.”