Investing in actions for diversity, equity and inclusion

Posted: February 26, 2021

The College of Engineering first established an office focused on student and faculty diversity in 2000. Since then, it has supported thousands of underrepresented minority and female students in their pursuit of engineering degrees.


But its mission and focus may never have been more important than it is now.

Sparked again in 2020 by the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, our nation’s ongoing struggle with racial equity and justice rightfully dominated the news cycle and our collective consciousness. The College of Engineering was not isolated from these conversations. Students, staff and faculty asked for discourse and demanded action on issues that too often went unaddressed.

College leadership, including our Office of Diversity, Outreach and Inclusion, led zoom meetings with student, faculty and staff this past summer, which resulted in thoughtful, constructive and actionable recommendations.

Last September, the College of Engineering shared its first-ever Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. In February, the college reported progress on the plan’s five focus areas. Among the actions is a $100,000 investment this year by the college to fund initiatives led by the Office of Diversity, Outreach and Inclusion.

Lisa Barclay (headshot)

Senior Director of Diversity, Outreach & Inclusion and Interim Assistant Dean and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Lisa Barclay and other college leaders collaborated to develop the action plan. Progress will be measured and shared on a regular basis.

“The responsibility of creating a more equitable and inclusive environment is complex and difficult work that requires sustained effort over time by the entire college,” Barclay said. “It is our hope that sustained investment will support increased professional development and provide resources for recruitment and retention initiatives of diverse students, faculty and staff.

A philanthropic fund has been established for others – such as alumni, foundations and industry partners – to multiply the college’s seed investment, to enhance and expand diversity efforts like the Minority Engineering Program, the Women in Engineering Program, hiring and professional development practices, student recruitment initiatives, and more.

Courtney Ross

“Recent conversations with alumni and industry partners alike have been more candid than ever before, acknowledging that there is work to be done and asking how they might help us create a more inclusive and welcoming environment,” said Director of Development Courtney Ross. “Philanthropy is a way that some donors have chosen to stand alongside our efforts and use their resources to be change agents. We believe others will continue this trend.”

To learn more about the College of Engineering Office of Diversity, Outreach and Inclusion Priority Fund and to contribute: