Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) means everyone has equitable access and opportunity based on the principle that all our students, staff and faculty have a right to an educational experience free from social barriers.

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JEDI means redesigning our hiring, admissions, retention and support processes to remove structural as well as individual biases.

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JEDI means being transparent in communicating our progress, as well as where we need to improve.

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JEDI means truly committing and taking action to create an inclusive and diverse community—one that will enrich engineering education and empower all of us to achieve our goals.

Our Mission

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Action Items for Change

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While diversity and inclusion in all its forms has always been part of our core values, recent crises sharply exposed the disparities in our society and how continued systemic racism and bias in our country obstruct equal opportunity. We needed to do more to ensure an equitable educational experience for all our engineers and scientists.

So Dean Kemper Lewis and a team of 40 faculty, staff and students across the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), co-led by Letitia Thomas, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Christine Human, Associate Dean for Accreditation and Student Affairs, formed the SEAS Working Group for Action on Racial Equity. 

The working group reviewed all aspects of the school’s current policies and procedures, from faculty and staff recruitment to student support and K-12 outreach, resulting in a comprehensive report and the following action items for change:

  • Recruit and retain more underrepresented students
  • Remove bias in student policies and procedures
  • Increase support for underrepresented students
  • Hire more diverse faculty and staff
  • Establish inclusive pedagogy and curriculum
  • Infuse discussion of social and cultural impacts of engineering and technology into our teaching and research
  • Increase outreach programming to students from the City of Buffalo
  • Form a standing SEAS for JEDI Committee to ensure continued progress
  • Provide diversity training and workshops

 

SEAS for JEDI Committee Members

Jason Armstrong
Teaching Associate Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department

Joseph Atkinson
Professor and Chair, Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Rajan Batta
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Diversity, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Kathryn Doran
Registration & Academic Requirement Specialist, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Kennedy Colon
President of the UB National Society of Black Engineers and Undergraduate Student, Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Department

Christopher Connor
Assistant Dean & Chief Enrollment Officer for Graduate Education, Office of Graduate Education

Holly Evert
Associate Director of Communications, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Ashlee Ford Versypt
Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department

Eileen Hassett
Assistant Dean for Faculty Recruitment, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Christine Human
Associate Dean, Accreditation and Student Affairs, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Nina Jiangxi Gomez
Student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department

David Kofke
SUNY Distinguished Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department

Kristen Moore - Committee Chair
Associate Professor, Engineering Education Department

Shannon Phillips
Director of Operation, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Matilde Sanchez-Pena
Assistant Professor, Engineering Education Department

Virgina Stever
Director of Administration, Computer Science and Engineering Department

Jane Stoyle Welch
Director of Communications, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Letitia Thomas
Assistant Dean for Diversity, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

David Yearke
Director of Cybersecurity and Data Assurance, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
 

Latest JEDI Initiatives

In addition to the initiatives below, SEAS for JEDI will serve as resource for grant writing activities leading to a host of additional programs, including social justice in engineering, opportunities in graduate education for underrepresented students and workforce development.

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Students in the Stevens Center during Small Groups.

Diversity Peer Mentoring Program

For many incoming students, transitioning from high school to college can be challenging and intimidating. The SEAS Diversity Peer Mentoring Program focuses on helping incoming students make a smooth and successful academic and social transition by providing opportunities for engagement and support, along with learning about department, school, and university resources. New students are matched with a fellow student in the SEAS community, who will help support and guide them through their first year at UB.

Leadership Development Fellow Program

Our students will need leadership skills to address society's largest and most challenging problems in the natural and built environments. The SEAS Leadership Development Program was created to give SEAS BIPOC undergraduate and graduate students who are currently engaged in a research project with a faculty advisor, mentorship and professional development. Students who earn the fellowship receive a mentoring session with the SEAS Dean, focusing on the development of the student as a researcher, mentor and leader. 

Electrical Engineering student in the lab with Professor Zirnheld.
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Women's Empowerment Scholarship

We aim to significantly increase the percentage of women undergraduate students in engineering and computer science programs. Towards this goal, we are excited to offer a scholarship to women who apply as first-year students and who have the potential to become leaders in the fields of engineering and computer science. Called the SEAS Women's Empowerment Scholarship, the highly selective award is a non-tuition scholarship that can be used for costs such as housing, student fees, or experiential learning opportunities, including study abroad. Funds are awarded annually over four years as long as the recipient remains a full-time student in an engineering or computer science major with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Visiting Future Faculty Program

The Visiting Future Faculty Program (VITAL) is an exciting and rewarding four-day program that brings promising doctoral scholars from all disciplines to the University at Buffalo.

VITAL seeks to contribute to the growth of faculty from traditionally underrepresented populations in the United States, particularly from Indigenous, African American/Black, and Hispanic/Latinx backgrounds. VITAL scholars have the opportunity to present their work, engage with UB faculty and students, meet other scholars in the program, and experience the region’s many offerings.

Hispanic faculty member standing by his civil engineering invention. .

DAC Inclusion Force

The Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) provides support and advice to Dean Lewis in several key areas, such as: long-term planning and strategy, educational and professional identity, and curriculum. The DAC is also invested in diversity and inclusion and has launched the Inclusion Force to provide input and advice on how to address disparities in the STEM workforce.

Ongoing Services & Opportunities

STEM Diversity Programs

The Office of STEM Diversity offers programs that work to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing STEM disciplines at UB. A variety of student-centric academic and social enrichment programs that feature peer mentoring, faculty mentoring and student research are offered. We also work closely with national engineering organization student chapters and community partners to build a strong, supportive environment.

SUNY PRODiG Program

The PRODiG (Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion and Growth) program aims to increase the representation of historically underrepresented faculty at SUNY including underrepresented minority faculty in general and women faculty of all races in STEM fields.

PhD Excellence Initiative

This campus-wide, student-centric program was created to enhance the education of the next generation of scholars and researchers, with a particular emphasis on diversity and inclusion in PhD programs.

Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the SUNY LSAMP program seeks to diversify the STEM workforce by significantly increasing the numbers of students successfully completing degree programs in STEM disciplines. 

The Stories Pushing us Forward

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