Tech pushes forward to achieve a diverse, inclusive community

Last spring, Tech released its blueprint for the future with the unveiling of its strategic plan for the next 25 years. The plan, titled “Designing the Future: A Strategic Vision and Plan,” is intended to illuminate Tech’s pathway to the future as a leading technological university in the 21st century. Central to Tech’s vision for the future is our ability to be an “Institute that pursues excellence, and embraces and leverages diversity in all of its forms… and to achieve a culture of collegiality, close collaboration, global perspective, intercultural sensitivity and respect, and thoughtful interaction among a diverse community of scholars that includes all of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”
On Jan. 3, 2011, I arrived at the A. French Building for my first full day as Tech’s first vice president for Institute Diversity, a new administrative position whose creation is intended to help fulfill key aspirations articulated in the strategic plan. My overarching responsibility is to provide Institute-level leadership to achieve our vision for a diverse and inclusive community of scholars and learners that will formulate solutions to the important social, scientific and technological challenges that will inevitably be a part of our future as leading research university in the 21st century.
My primary goal over the next year will be to establish collegial partnerships with administrative and academic leaders of the Institute and with all interested students, faculty and staff to build upon the strengths that have earned the Institute the distinction of being one of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Best Places to Work For” both in 2009 and 2010.
In order to build upon our solid foundation, we must not only acknowledge our strengths but also recognize opportunities to improve upon those core attributes. A major opportunity to improve will be our ability to extend the benefits of a Tech education to those who have not been historically welcomed into the Tech community and to those whose life circumstances have effectively limited their economic ability to attend. Making Tech more accessible for women, minority and lower-income students will be an important part of the formula for continued greatness into the 21st century.
As our campus community and nation celebrate Black History Month, I am reminded that just 50 years ago, the first African American students enrolled at Tech. And while these brave pioneers did not complete their academic programs at Tech, they did something that fundamentally was much more important: they blazed a path for others to follow them. As a result of their efforts to remove social barriers then, Tech today is the leading producer of black, women and Hispanic engineers in the country.
Tech is the top producer of minority and African American PhDs in engineering. We are also second in the number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering for African Americans and minorities as a whole. Tech is among the top five for awarding African American master’s degrees in engineering and master’s in physical science degrees. The Institute is also among the top five universities for awarding master’s degrees in engineering to minority students as a whole.
As we continue the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the matriculation of black students at Tech, I hope all of us will join in the celebration because this event altered the course of the Institute forever. This celebration is not intended to be for African Americans or other people of color only. This is a celebration for all of us at Tech because today we have among us the best talent and people from all communities from the state, the nation and the globe who call Tech home.
The next event in our ongoing celebration is the unveiling of the African American “By Faith” exhibition and the Diversity, Philanthropy and Access to Higher Education Symposium on Feb. 28. For more detailed information, visit http://diversity.gatech.edu.
Go Jackets!

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