Michigan Engineering News

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Two initiatives to enact lasting change

Looking at what’s ahead for DEI

Written by Sara Pozzi, director of diversity, equity and inclusion

Our campus community at Michigan Engineering heard recently from Dean Alec Gallimore about the urgent need to stem the pandemic of racism, and weave the tenets of diversity, equity and inclusion into the fabric of Michigan Engineering. He introduced two new initiatives – providing sustained, pervasive education and establishing a new structure to work horizontally across our pillars and units – to move us into the future of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.

This summer has sharply exposed the disparities in our society – the continued systemic racism and bias in our country that have long led to a lack of equal opportunity for and violence against our Black citizens. We also know that we have many related issues to tackle, including those around sexual misconduct, accessibility, harassment, and more. 

As Director of DEI at the College, I have worked side-by-side with teams of faculty, staff and students to identify the major challenges and obstacles, and learn how to clear a better path through them. As we near the conclusion of our five-year DEI Strategic Plan, we are focusing on the future, and believe these two initiatives will provide the foundation and framework to enact lasting change. 

  • Education: Sustained, pervasive education around issues of race, ethnicity, unconscious bias and inclusion for everyone in engineering – students, faculty and staff – within one year.
  • New Center: Evolving the role of our Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach (CEDO), establishing a new structure which will work horizontally across all our pillars and units to ensure the work is not siloed and provides resources for the students (current and prospective), staff and faculty behind our research, education and culture.

I would like to ask for your help – at Michigan Engineering, the job of creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community rests not within one organization or group of people, but with all of us. The proposals for these initiatives have been thoughtfully outlined around what we believe will set us on a path to success. However, they cannot be implemented without hearing your input first. We want to hear all voices and perspectives – including those that disagree with our approaches. We want to understand where these initiatives fall short, and talk as a community about how to improve them and what they will achieve.

We know you will have questions, and we welcome them. I sincerely hope you will take advantage of more than one of the opportunities outlined on our website under “Share your feedback” and let your voice be heard.

Creating a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive environment is a never-ending journey. It must permeate our teaching, our research, and our campus. Through the initiatives outlined above, we will be building a framework to ensure that every member of the engineering community is educated about issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, beginning with a focus on race, ethnicity and unconscious bias. This is a personal and rewarding journey of growth. This work will also ensure that everyone has access to pipelines and pathways to become successful engineers and leaders, and tools to ensure an inclusive and equitable campus.

I hope you will join me in this charge.