Moment of transition: a couple words of gratitude and hope for the future

As you may know now Dr. Najla Mouchrek, who has led the interfaith program since 2019, will be shifting to a new opportunity here on campus. All of us are extremely grateful for the work she has done to build a large and significant foundation for interfaith education and engagement. It has grown in ways that we hoped it would and certainly beyond the initial strategic goals we created.

In an effort to not lose pace with developing plans and other initiatives, we will be launching a national search for a new Assistant Dean for Interfaith Leadership. The hope would be to fill the role by the end of the summer in time for the academic year and the important launch of the Aurora living-learning program. Like other searches, a screening committee will be formed and asked to identify 3 finalists to “visit” campus to participate in interviews and spend time with all partners. These day-long campus interview visits will be an important opportunity for each of you to engage with finalists for the role and offer critical feedback.

Dr. Mouchrek will conclude her time in the Dean of Students Office at the end of June and I hope that we will have the new Assistant Dean for Interfaith Leadership in place by the end of July. Thanks, as always, for the many ways that you all have contributed to the interfaith program. In spite of the shift to virtual engagement, the programs continued due not only to the tremendous effort of Dr. Mouchrek, but your involvement and passion for interfaith learning and leadership.

With gratitude,

Byron Hughes, PhD  |  Dean of Students


Dr. Mouchrek & Dr. Hughes address the community during the Interfaith Together Dinner in 2020.
Photos: Luke Williams

It was my honor and my pleasure to lead the interfaith initiatives at Virginia Tech for the last two years. Today I celebrate the amazing participation and presence of people from several groups, worldviews, and walks of life in this community.

I will be eternally grateful for the work and dedication from the outstanding members of the three interfaith leadership bodies on campus: Interfaith Advisory Council,  Aurora Interfaith Living-Learning Community Steering Committee, and Synergy: Interfaith Collective at Virginia Tech (student-led).

My heartfelt gratitude also to all students, faculty, staff, community members who participated and presented in dialogues, brown-bag lunches, student leadership & professional development trainings, talks, social justice discussions, panels, exhibits, and social gatherings. It is because of the engagement and participation of you all that we could start and grow this vibrating community at Virginia Tech.

I am confident that the interfaith initiative can continue to thrive and offer opportunities for people from all worldviews to keep engaging in constructive conversations, maintain and grow fruitful relationships, and hopefully increasingly move into action for the common good in our communities. You all give me hope in the possibility of unity and cultivating harmony among diverse groups of people. Let’s keep this light on.

I will not be far, but just across the street – still a member of the Virginia Tech community, still a friend for the interfaith initiative, and above all, still a friend for each one of you who I had the pleasure to walk side-by-side along this wonderful chapter of our journeys.

Najla Mouchrek, PhD  |   Inaugural Program Director for Interfaith Initiatives at VT   |   May 2021


Dr. Najla Mouchrek
Photo: Christina Franusich