For me, diversity is also about attitudes, mindsets, viewpoints and ways of thinking that promote inclusivity that brings out the best features in the human experience.”
Eric Bloch Endowed Chair
Department of Materials Design and Innovation
Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) – these four words express the collective effort around racial equity in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
While many of our visitors may think of JEDI as guardians of peace and order in the Star Wars galaxy, for us, it signifies our commitment as a school to make the time to lean in, listen, reflect and learn from one another.
Following the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests to highlight systemic racism throughout our country, Dean Kemper Lewis held a Town Hall on Racial Injustice: Listen, Learn and Act, which provided a forum to discuss the challenges facing SEAS in addressing racial inequality.
Following this discussion, the SEAS Working Group for Action on Racial Equity was created in the Fall of 2020 to review all aspects of the school’s current policies and procedures, from faculty and staff recruitment to student support, to K-12 outreach. Co-led by Letitia Thomas, assistant dean for diversity, and Christine Human, associate dean for accreditation and student affairs, the working group included over 40 faculty, staff and students from across the school. The effort resulted in a comprehensive report with recommendations for action.
From this report, Dean Lewis established the SEAS for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) initiative, to advance 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.
JEDI for SEAS is a standing committee whose charge is to redesign our hiring, admissions, retention, and support processes to remove structural as well as individual biases, and to engage in transparent communication on our process and progress. SEAS for JEDI advances access and opportunities based on the principle that all our students, staff and faculty have a right to an educational experience free from social barriers. The initiative is our commitment to listen, reflect and learn from one another and to take action to create an inclusive and diverse community.
It is our belief that we need diversity to have excellence. Our attention and commitment to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for undeserved students will result in a better environment for everyone.
SEAS for JEDI encompasses several diversity initiatives within SEAS. It also serves as a 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.
The office works to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at the University at Buffalo. A variety of student-centric academic and social enrichment programs that feature peer mentoring, faculty mentoring and student research are offered. The Office works closely with national engineering organization student chapters and community partners to build a strong, supportive environment.
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 leadership development program aims to enhance the research and leadership skills of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students by providing provides mentorship and professional development opportunities. The program is open to BIPOC undergraduate and graduate students who are currently engaged in a research project with a faculty advisor in SEAS.
This scholarship aims to significantly increase the percentage of women undergraduate students in engineering and computer science programs. It is given to female applicants entering as first year students who have the potential to become leaders in the fields of engineering and computer science.
This 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 school community, who help support and guide them through their first year at UB.
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.
The Dean’s Advisory Council, an oversight committee that provides support and advice to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, created a focus group to specifically address diversity, equity and inclusion, consistent with university objectives. This includes guidance, metrics, integrating best practices, training, new programs and outreach to the community.
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.