Current Member Spotlight
Michael Mason, Ph.D, LPC
Director , Luther Porter Jackson Black Cultural Center
Office of African American Affairs
Michael Mason is an Associate Dean and the Director of the Luther Porter Jackson Black Cultural Center in the Office of African American Affairs. He has been with OAAA for 4 years, and at the university for 11 years total. During his time as a Multicultural Specialist in the Elson Student Health Counseling and Psychological Services Department, he served as the Director of Project RISE, a peer counseling project created for Black students by Black students.
His advice to other Black faculty and staff at UVA is to “make certain that you can count the number of close relationships you have with other Black faculty and staff on your fingers and toes. Much of my support and success at UVA can be attributed to this simple practice; being connected at all times to at least 10 other Black faculty and staff who I know with absolute certainty have my back and I theirs. You will find that maintaining this practice eventually leads to you being able to build and maintain a strong community of support around you.”
Mason recalls an experience he had as a graduate student. He remembers crossing in the crosswalk near the Emmett garage. When he was in the middle of the crosswalk, two guys in a navy blue truck pressed the gas, pulled forward, and bumped into him. The driver was very apologetic. "I am so sorry. I didn't see you," he said. Mason responded, "AND THAT IS THE PROBLEM! Your inability to see me keeps me forever on the verge of being run over by your blindness!" Willful blindness continues to be a major obstacle that he faces daily, however, by helping Black students nurture within themselves the capacity to see one another and to tolerate being seen, he lessens the impact of others’ blindness on them.
Previous Member Spotlights
Dr. Marcus Martin
Vice President &
Chief Officer for
Diversity and Equity
Dr. Marcus Martin has been working at UVA for 23 years. He became the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity in 2009 and is a Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medicine. His research initiatives are emergency medical services, including patient care, education and research. He has been the senior editor for two books, Diversity and Inclusion in Quality Patient Care. His advice to other Black faculty and staff is: "Choose career paths that you are passionate about and work diligently to achieve your goals. Engage in other cultures in addition to your own. Respect the rights and traditions of others. Pay close attention to the needs of family, your close friends, and community." An obstacle he has faced is being the only person of his color within leadership circles, whether that is chair of a department or president of a national organization. There are many pressures associated with being first, but he has overcome them through faith and perseverance.Dr. Martin officially retired on January 1, 2019. In order to commemorate Dr. Martin’s wonderful achievements through the years, the Office for Diversity and Equity gifted him a university bench outside of Madison Hall. The Virginia House also introduced a resolution by Delegate Toscano commending Dr. Martin for his significant personal and professional achievements in medicine and diversity and equity. Congratulations Dr. Martin, and thank you for inspiring change at the University of Virginia!
Employment Equity Specialist
Tobiyah Morris is a Compliance Analyst/Employment Equity Specialist in the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil rights and has been employed by UVA since 2005. Professionally, she is interested in building and supporting employment pipelines into UVA for Black people in Charlottesville and surrounding counties. Her advice to other black faculty and staff is: "UVA is like its own city with its own culture and it can be intimidating for new employees; especially staff who are local but never really felt welcome on Grounds. Black employees must help each other navigate the terrain. Be willing to reach out to lend a hand or to ask for help." Tobiyah appreciates the learning opportunities she has had through conferences, guest speakers, and working with students and faculty.
Devin Harris, Ph.D
Department of Engineering Systems and Environment
Devin Harris, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment (formerly Civil and Environmental Engineering). He has been at the university for 7 years. His research focuses on physical infrastructure systems with an emphasis on smart cities and much of his research groups’ (MOB Lab) work, explores technologies to evaluate the performance and condition state of infrastructure systems using non-traditional sensing. Harris also serves as the Director for the Center for Transportation Studies and is the Faculty Director for the Clark Scholars Program. His advice to other black faculty and staff, is to continue to create community here at UVA, both within BFS-ERG and beyond. Make UVA feel like home. Harris is a big sports fan and he loves to watch college football (he chants Go Gators and Wahoos), One of his favorite personal sports experiences was watching the Florida Gators beat Florida State during a big rain storm en route to a National Championship.
Dr. Maurice Apprey
Maurice Apprey is the Dean of African American Affairs and a professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine. He has been at the university for 39 years. His professional and research interests include being a psychoanalyst for children, adolescents and adults, social change practice management, and inter-ethnic conflict resolution. Apprey launched minority student affairs in the School of Medicine from 1982-2004. His advice to young faculty is that they must find a mentor from within their department from the very beginning. He has a mentoring model that he would be happy to share. For staff, take advantage of all the continuing education benefits – never stop learning! His favorite personal experience was helping a retired colonel from the Army enter medical school despite many obstacles. That young man ended up being the first African American MD/PhD candidate and graduate at UVA.