Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence Committee strives to advance diversity
While Rutgers University is one of the nation’s most diverse universities, Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway, who joined the university in July 2020, has committed to building an even more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. “Rutgers can be a leader on the national stage by redefining how and where we find excellence,” he said. “This work is born and bred out of a commitment to diversity in all of its forms.”
Rutgers recently initiated a university-wide diversity strategic plan that maps a route for building a more inclusive community with a focus on recruiting and developing a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff, promoting inclusive scholarship and community engagement, and creating an institutional avenue for change. A Diversity Strategic Planning Toolkit will guide the process, with a Diversity Strategic Planning Assessment Survey offering the university community an opportunity to shape the path forward. The launch kicked off with a virtual “Building an Inclusive Academy” symposium on January 29, while a “Picturing a Beloved Community Poster Series” highlights core values of inclusion, opportunity, innovation, leadership, global reach, and respect for humanity.
The School of Engineering (SoE) has long been committed to creating a culture and community of diversity and inclusion. “We look forward to joining in the university’s strategic planning process as we continue to focus on building a notably diverse and inclusive school community,” says School of Engineering Dean Thomas Farris.
“Diversity is one of our school’s leading priorities,” he adds. “Our students enjoy an equal opportunity to thrive in an inclusive living and learning environment that prepares them to succeed in today’s diverse and interconnected world. Our talented faculty and staff, as well as the membership of our Industry Advisory Board, embody the school’s diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and perspectives.”
In coordination with the university-wide effort, the School of Engineering’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence Committee is tasked with developing activities, and infrastructure that enable faculty, staff, and students to realize their full potential through a diverse, accessible, equitable, and inclusive environment. Led by associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Kimberly Cook-Chennault, the committee includes faculty, administrators, students, and alumni.
“Inclusive excellence is our core tenet,” says Cook-Chennault. “By establishing and nurturing a culture of inclusive excellence we are helping to meet key goals. These include developing effective strategies to recruit and retain underrepresented students, faculty, and staff, as well as offering forums and learning opportunities that forge mutual respect and cross-cultural understanding.”
The key priority of hiring and retaining diverse faculty members is further supported by $40 million in strategic funding through 2024 by the Rutgers Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative, while SoE’s Engineers of the Future program – an extension of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) – gives economically and educationally disadvantaged students access to higher education.
SoE students are also active leaders in such diversity-driven societies as Minority Engineering Educational Task (MEET), the Rutgers Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers; the Society of Hispanic Engineers; the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers; and the Society of Women Engineers.
SoE is a recognized national leader both for its success in supporting diversity and inclusion within its community as well as in serving as a pipeline for workforce diversity. The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) designated the school as an exemplar – its highest bronze award distinction – in its first ever nationwide ASEE Diversity Recognition Program. SoE is among eight institutions recognized by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for its efforts in diversifying engineering education.
As a National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) partner institution, SoE is invested in enriching society with a workforce that champions STEM diversity. A longtime National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA) partner institution, the school actively supports its mission of achieving equity and parity in the nation’s workforce.