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James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminars

James D. McComas was the thirteenth president of Virginia Tech, from 1988 to 1994. He announced his resignation for health reasons on Sept. 28, 1993, effective Jan. 1, 1994. He died Feb. 10, 1994, in Columbus, Ohio, at age 65. McComas was supportive of the Staff Senate, which held its first meeting on September 19, 1991. In recognition of his support, the James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar was established by resolution on June 19, 2004. The annual event provides leadership training to staff members from all departments of the university.

2024 James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar

The James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar will be in a hybrid format to offer all Virginia Tech staff members the opportunity to continue their education, network with colleagues, and learn skills that will help them with their job. The event will also be streamed with limited interaction. The seminar will be on Thursday, March 7, in the Squires Commonwealth Ballroom. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., the program begins at 8:30 a.m., and the session is scheduled to end around 4:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

In-person registration is limited to 250 staff members only. The webinar is open to all Virginia Tech staff and capped at 500 registrations. Registration is open and closes on Friday, March 1. Registration for the webinar will remain open.

Confirmed guests: VT therapy dogs, VT Talent Development, and Ringo.


Karen Eley Sanders, Associate Vice Provost for College Access Collaborative
Empathetic Leadership

Dr. Max Stephenson, Professor UAP and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance

Lisa Wilkes, Vice President for Business Affairs
A Journey Towards Leading with Empathy

Bryan Garey, Vice President for Human Resources

Karen DePauw, Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education
Musings About Leadership and Change

Special music:

Wilderness Road Chorus


Lessons Learned from Mentoring
Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke, JD
The Office for Inclusion and Diversity

Staff as Mentors for Undergraduate Students
Dr. Rachel Holloway
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Seven Life Lessons from Psychological Science: How to bring out the best in yourself and others.
Dr. Scott Geller
Alumni Distinguished Professor, Psychology

Mentoring: Becoming a Leader in the Workplace
Tamara Cherry-Clarke
Assistant Director of Student Conduct

Strategies for Success: Mentoring and Being Mentored
Amy Hogan
Assistant Provost for Leadership Initiatives

2018 McComas Leadership Seminar program (PDF | 3MB)

Staff from around the Virginia Tech campus gathered on Wednesday, April 26th at The German Club Manor for a day of focus on what it means not only to lead others, but to serve them as well.

Program Sponsors:

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
College of Architecture and Urban Studies
College of Engineering
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
College of Natural Resources 
and Environment
College of Science
Graduate School
Information Technology
Office of the President 
Office of the Provost
Pamplin College of Business
Research Operations
Vice President for Administration
Vice President for Finance & Chief Financial Officer
Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs
Vice President for Student Affairs
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia TechTransportation Institute

This year's McComas Leadership Seminar will be held Monday, May 5, 2014, at The Inn at Virginia Tech. The day will feature presentations on the theme, Leaders and Legacies and a catered lunch. The keynote speaker will be Virginia Tech President Charles Steger. Additional speakers include Truman Capone, Nikki Giovanni, Patty Perillo, and Mark McNamee.


7:30 – 8:30am: Registration and morning refreshments

8:30 – 9:00am: Welcome with Hal Irvin, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

9:00 – 9:45am: Mark McNamee, University Provost

9:45 – 10:00am: Virginia Tech Staff Leadership Award Ceremony with Ross Mecham

10:00 – 10:45am: Keynote address by President Charles Steger

10:45 – 11:00am: Morning break

11:00 – 11:45am: Patricia “Patty” Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs

11:45 – 1:00pm: Buffet lunch

1:00 – 1:30pm: Tyler Walters, Dean of Libraries

1:30 – 2:15pm: Truman Capone, Professor Emeritus

2:30 – 3:30pm: Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor

3:30pm: Closing remarks with Sue Teel, Business Manager, Department of Physics and President of Staff Senate


  • Office of the President
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • Department of Athletics
  • College of Architecture and Urban Studies
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • College of Science
  • Frank Beamer Family
  • Office of the Provost
  • Vice President for Outreach and International Affairs
  • Vice President for Administration
  • Vice President for Information Technology
  • Vice President for Research Operations
  • Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Department of English
  • Human Resources
  • University Organizational and Professional Development


7:45-8:30am: Contental breakfast and registration

8:30-9:00am Welcome

9:00-10:00am Breakout session #1: Keisha Williams and Ron Rordam

10:00-10:15am Break

10:15-11:30am Keynote: Harold Kursted "Leadership lessons learned from a horse"

11:45-noon Awards presentation

Noon-1:30pm Lunch

1:30-2:30pm Panel discussion

2:30-2:45pm Break

2:45-3:45 Breakout session #2: Dave Nutter and Ben Knapp

3:45-4:00pm Wrap-up

Enhancing our spheres of influence

Thursday, May 5, 2011, 8:30am - 3:30pm
Lane Stadium, South End Zone

Keynotes address by Dr. Mike Henry, Leadership is where the rubber meets the pavement
Professor of Education and Director of Student Services at Southwest Virginia Community College

Six breakout sessions

  • Multiple generations in the workforce
  • Inclusion: diversity revisited
  • What is wellness, and how to make it a priority
  • ESP: positively influence and enhance your organization
  • The impact of choice competence and community
  • Panel discussion: positive and negative impacts of our influence

Related Links

Advancing leadership and unity during unpredictable times

Thursday, May 6, 2010, 8:30am - 3:30pm
Old Dominion Ballroom, Squires Student Center

Keynote address by Andrew Morikawa, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River

Nine breakout sessions

  • Transforming leadership: The Army approach - LTC Chuck Payne, Military Affairs
  • Developing a professional ePortfolio - Teggin Summers, Learning ePortfolio Initiatives
  • An ethical perspective - Camptain Jim Snyder, Military Affairs
  • Networking - Claire Childress, Career Services
  • The ethics challenge - Julie Walters-Steele, UUSA
  • Women in leadership: Does gender matter? - Kathy Lokale, The Women's Center at Virginia Tech
  • Leadership for the 21st century: How to prepare now - Allison Dunn, UUSA
  • The Virginia Tech Principle of Community - Ray PLaza, Academic Support Services
  • Handling conflict effectively - Dale Robinson, Office for Diversity and Inclusion

Related Links