Dean signs letter supporting engineering diversity

Jeffrey Ray, dean of the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology at Western Carolina University, is among the more than 100 leaders of collegiate engineering education programs from across the nation who recently endorsed a letter presented to President Obama in support of efforts to increase diversity among engineering students.

Jeffrey Ray

Jeffrey Ray

Ray joined 101 other U.S. engineering school deans in signing the letter on behalf of the Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education. Presentation of the letter was a part of activities Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the first-ever White House Demo Day, which focused on inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

“Diversity in the Kimmel School has been a cornerstone in our efforts to attract and retain a diverse student body, faculty and staff,” Ray said. “The importance of diversity in engineering fields provides many more innovative solutions to problems impacting our society as a whole. Signing of the ASEE diversity letter represents my longstanding commitment, as well as the Kimmel School’s, to achieving greater representation of everyone in the engineering profession.”

In the letter, Ray and the other deans committed their respective institutions to:

  • Create a diversity plan for engineering programs with the help and input of national professional organizations.
  • Sponsor to at least one public education or community college “pipeline activity” with goals and measures of accountability aimed at increasing the diversity of the engineering student body.
  • Cultivate strong partnerships between research-intensive engineering schools and non-doctoral engineering schools serving populations that are underrepresented in the profession.
  • Develop and implement proactive strategies to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the engineering faculty.

“Engineering is empowering society in unprecedented ways,” the letter states. “It is at the core of all innovation, resulting in tremendous societal and economic benefits; it is the most important discipline to address current and emerging challenges in the U.S. and on a global scale; and it provides new, imaginative ways to enrich life. A fundamental requirement for growth of this enabling power, however, is for the engineering community to attract and engage people from all segments of our society.”

The letter goes on to read: “The evolving demographic landscape of the U.S., the need for constant economic competitiveness and the upholding of our core values to ensure equal opportunity and access to all who seek it, all point to the importance of actively embracing diversity and inclusiveness in all our endeavors. Diversity and inclusiveness are essential for the development of creative solutions to the world’s challenges and to enrich life.”

For more information about engineering programs at WCU, visit the website engineering.wcu.edu.