UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences recognized as national leader in diversity and inclusiveness

by Nicole Capozziello

Published August 15, 2019

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is an Exemplar recipient of a Bronze Award in the first year of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Diversity Recognition Program.

"It is a credit to our entire school community that our diversity and inclusion efforts are being recognized nationally, and this award highlights that we are moving in the right direction."
Rajan Batta, interim dean
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
ASEE diversity recognition program bronze level badge.

Of the 74 engineering programs to receive the Bronze Level award, UB was one of only 29 to be recognized as Exemplar. Bronze was the only level available in the program’s inaugural year and first-ever round of review.

“The Bronze level recognition means that your school is among the nation’s leaders in exclusive excellence,” states Gregory Washington, Chair of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council, in the award letter. “I commend you for your progress and thank you for your support of this important ASEE EDC Initiative.”

Exemplar status was granted to programs with initiatives or outcomes that were deemed by the reviewers as significant. It allows the school to resubmit for a higher classification (Silver) later this year.

"It is a credit to our entire school community that our diversity and inclusion efforts are being recognized nationally, and this award highlights that we are moving in the right direction," said Rajan Batta, interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In the last few years, the school has undertaken several initiatives focused on diversity, including: appointing a Diversity Officer in the school and establishing the STEM Diversity Programs office, developing a comprehensive diversity plan, increasing faculty diversity, strengthening practices for faculty and staff recruiting, disseminating diversity resources via a revamped website, and establishing new and strengthening existing K-12 partnerships.

The school’s continued commitment to increasing the recruitment and retention of women in engineering is evidenced by its support of the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program. WiSE provides academic, social and professional development opportunities and resources to female students in STEM majors, and conducts a week-long engineering summer camp for high school women called TINKER.

“Matching talented students with willing faculty research mentors has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my work,” says Letitia Thomas, director of STEM Diversity Programs. “Programs like the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) have been invaluable in leveraging the resources and faculty networks in the school, by providing students with rich experiences and introducing faculty to underrepresented student interns for their various research projects.”

Thomas and other leaders in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are also committed to building on and expanding partnerships in New York State and across the country. In addition to participating in the Compact for Faculty Diversity Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, the largest gathering of underrepresented minority PhD scholars in the country, the school is participating in PRODiG, which stands for Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth. This new SUNY initiative aims to increase faculty diversity to better reflect the diversity of students across the 64 SUNY campuses, with the goal of employing and supporting 1,000 professors from underrepresented groups by 2030.

The ASEE declared 2014-15 a “year of action in diversity,” and challenged the deans of engineering schools across the country to take affirmative and meaningful steps towards increasing opportunity for women and underrepresented students. In 2015, former dean Liesl Folks was one of more than 100 engineering deans around the country to sign the ASEE Engineering Deans' Council Diversity Initiative pledge as part of White House Demo Day.

The ASEE Diversity Recognition Program was created to accelerate the achievement of ASEE’s Diversity Pledge goals, and publicly recognize engineering schools that make significant, measurable progress in increasing the diversity, inclusion and degree attainment outcomes of their programs.

The status is valid for three years, from 2019-2021, or until the school applies for the next level, whichever comes first.