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Who's Who in Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic Partnerships

The Office of Diversity,  Inclusion, and Strategic Partnerships Team 

We focus on excellence in graduate student research, teaching, and service through innovative diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Catherine Cotrupi, Interim Assistant Dean and Director

Catherine Cotrupi stands outside in front of a brick building and trees
Catherine Cotrupi, Interim Assistant Dean and Director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic Partnerships. Virginia Tech photo

Catherine Cotrupi (she/hers) serves as the Interim Assistant Dean and Director for Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic Partnerships for the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.

She is passionate about community engagement, DEIJ, antiracism, and justice-based efforts and has served in professional and personal roles working to bridge the these to leverage the resources of each for the benefit of the others.

Her professional work and passions lie at the intersection of community engagement and DEIJ efforts. Her previous professional roles include working for VT Engage, the Center for 

Service Learning, Leadership Education, and Civic Engagement; and Multicultural Programs and Services (now the Cultural and Community Centers) at Virginia Tech; and as Community Engagement Manager at the University of Southern Indiana. She uses her experience and expertise to support antiracist and social justice efforts on campus and off.

Catherine earned both her doctoral degree in Higher Education and her master’s degree in Sociology from Virginia Tech and she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Clemson University. Her dissertation research focused on white faculty members’ actions to resist upholding whiteness and white supremacy culture in their community engagement efforts. Her personal, professional, and academic interests include individuals’ actions toward actively addressing inequity and hegemony.

She and her wife, Tara, live in Radford their dog, Hugo, and their cats, Phoebe and Finn.

Tian Meng, Graduate Assistant

Tian Meng smiling and wearing a VT T-shirt
Tian Meng

Tian Meng is the Graduate Assistant for Diversity, Inclusion, and Strategic Partnership team at Graduate School. As an international student, Tian has a passion for fostering an environment where differences are celebrated, and collaboration is the key.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Beijing Language and Culture University, an M.A. degree in Instructional Technology and currently pursuing her doctoral degree in the educational realm at Virginia Tech. Her enduring fascination with cultural interchange, coupled with her active involvement in multiple educational programs abroad during her student years, drove her towards a professional path in the realm of international education. In her free time, Tian enjoys spending time with her friends and family, traveling, hiking, and playing musical instruments.

Whitley Johnson, Graduate Assistant

Whitley Johnson smiling
Whitley Johnson

Whitley is a 3rd-year student in the Higher Education doctoral program at Virginia Tech. She brings 10 years of higher education experience in various functional areas, 

including diversity and inclusion,  recruitment and programming for both undergraduate and graduate communities; academic advising and coaching; multicultural and TRIO programs; and first-generation student support. Whitley is a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and she is a two-time Virginia Tech graduate, earning a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2009 and an M.A.Ed in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs in 2016. Outside of work, Whitley loves spending time with her family and friends and attending concerts. 

Gavin Hough, Graduate Assistant

Gavin Hough smiling in a portrait shot
Gavin Hough

Gavin Hough (He/Him) holds a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Tennessee State University and is currently pursuing a master's degree in resource management. 


As a GEM Fellow and HBCU graduate, Gavin is passionate about equitable resource allocation for communities of color. 

His commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion aligns with his background in environmental science, and he aims to contribute to creating environments where differences are celebrated and collaboration is paramount. In his free time, Gavin enjoys plant shopping, whipping up organic culinary delights, and immersing himself in video games.