Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan

Published Summer 2020

Overview: A Steadfast Commitment

For the engineering profession to fully reach its potential, our academic and industry communities must listen to, engage, include, and encourage people from all segments of society. We must work together — utilizing the broad array of perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences that come with a truly diverse community — if we wish to develop the creative solutions needed to address the challenges of the future.

In the Cockrell School of Engineering, we are deeply committed to diversity in its many forms. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan is a defined framework and set of initiatives that will guide our future decisions and investments across all departments and communities, including those defined by race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, gender and gender expression, socioeconomic background, and first-generation status.

Definitions

We begin our plan by defining key terms:

Diversity is the quality of being different or unique at the individual and/or group level including characteristics such as age, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, nationality, race, religious beliefs or ideologies, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status. Promoting diversity includes embracing the unique differences and contributions of each individual in our community, including recognizing and supporting individuals’ multiple and intersecting identities.

Equity is giving each individual access to the resources they need to learn, perform, work, and thrive. Promoting equity means providing access to resources so that each individual in our community has what they need to succeed — access to opportunity, networks, resources, and support systems — based on where they are and where they want to go.

Inclusion is creating an environment that welcomes, embraces, and leverages the diversity that exists in our community to ensure that individuals feel supported, listened to, empowered, and able to do their personal best and contribute fully to the community. Inclusion promotes a sense of belonging and creates a cohesive community.

Goals and Outcomes

Through a sustained effort to strengthen diversity within the Texas Engineering community and through the long-term implementation of the DEI Plan, the Cockrell School aims to achieve the following long-term outcomes:

Outcome 1. Foster an inclusive school climate that supports and encourages community members and provides a strong sense of value and belonging among all students, faculty, and staff.

Outcome 2. Attract diverse applicants for faculty, student, staff, and administrator roles.

Outcome 3. Increase diversity and the community’s awareness of diversity among faculty, students, staff, and administrators.

Outcome 4. Retain and recognize diverse faculty, staff, and administrators.

Outcome 5. Improve student experiences, success, retention, graduation rates, and sense of belonging.

Outcome 6. Support the development of the full potential of each member of the community.

Implementation Strategies

In alignment with the Goals and Outcomes listed above, the Cockrell School of Engineering has identified the following short-term implementation strategies. We recognize that the work necessary to realize the DEI Plan will require substantial effort and resources, and it may not be possible to undertake all of these implementation strategies simultaneously. We also emphasize that this work is the responsibility of the entire community and should not fall solely on the shoulders of the systemically oppressed groups we aim to support.

Cross-Cutting Implementation Strategies

1. Collect data on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including surveys of staff, faculty, and students on inclusive school climate and the impact of Cockrell School DEI efforts.

2. Analyze data on diversity, equity, and inclusion and use the results to inform ongoing revision of Cockrell School DEI efforts and this DEI plan.

3. Create and disseminate information about diversity and DEI-related efforts, initiatives, and successes through publications, websites, and communication campaigns, including an annual report on DEI in the Cockrell School and public recognition of DEI “wins” by individuals and groups.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 1
Fostering an inclusive climate

1.1 Develop and deliver programming around monthly DEI focus topics for the entire Cockrell School (students, faculty, and staff).

1.2 Create and implement a strategy to broaden the delivery and impact of focused DEI-related workshops (including Bias Busters and leadership workshops).

1.3 Promote open and regular conversations within Cockrell School communities about DEI-related concerns and initiatives.

1.4 Continue and extend programming to celebrate diverse cultures in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 2
Creating diverse pipelines

2.1 Identify and implement ways to increase the pool of diverse undergraduate student applicants to the Cockrell School.

2.2 Create and support pipeline programs with minority-serving institutions to mentor racially diverse students into successful graduate school careers in our school.

2.3 Develop programming to mentor and support diverse undergraduate research participants into graduate school (e.g., through REU programs).

2.4 Develop intentional and coordinated outreach efforts to attract a more diverse pool of candidates for postdoctoral positions.

2.5 Understand, document, and address concerns and challenges related to recruiting diverse staff across different staff communities in the Cockrell School.

2.6 Collect best practices for diverse faculty recruiting from other institutions and create a faculty recruiting process that facilitates opportunities for faculty applicants from historically marginalized groups.

2.7 Develop programs and opportunities to prepare diverse mid-career faculty for leadership positions.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 3
Increasing community diversity and awareness

3.1 Train everyone involved in admissions and hiring about biases, including racism and sexism, and develop procedures that explicitly mitigate the disparate and negative impacts of these biases on hiring and admissions.

3.2 Create opportunities for continuous feedback and refinement of best procedures and practices for diverse recruiting of faculty, students, staff, and administrators.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 4
Retaining and recognizing diverse community members

4.1 Develop programs and resources for mentoring diverse faculty, staff, and administrators, including accessible “talking point” guides for mentors.

4.2 Ensure all staff have access to regular, high-quality feedback about actionable steps and timelines for career advancement.

4.3 Develop strategies and policies to value/recognize DEI efforts and “invisible service."

4.4 Develop a process for both "exit interviews" to survey faculty and staff who leave the Cockrell School about their experiences and decision to leave and “stay interviews” to collect data about faculty and staff who choose to remain in the Cockrell School.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 5
Improving the student experience

5.1 Continue to support and engage graduate students and faculty on discussions of best practices in student mentoring; distill lessons in graduate student mentoring into a handbook of best practices.

5.2 Foster, support, validate, and engage with existing efforts by students to improve DEI in the community (e.g., through existing student organizations).

5.3 Recognize outstanding efforts related to retention of undergraduate and graduate students, with particular focus on the impact of DEI efforts.

Implementation Strategies in Support of Outcome 6
Enabling individual and community success

6.1 Assess and improve the quality of mentoring of graduate students and faculty.

6.2 Identify and remove artificial barriers for undergraduate and graduate students, from curricula to policies to student programming.

6.3 Collect and analyze data on fellowship and scholarship awards (for graduate and undergraduate students) with respect to equitable distribution across diverse groups and use this data to support recruiting and retaining individuals from underrepresented groups.

6.4 Collect and analyze data on faculty, staff, and graduate student service obligations from an equity lens and use this data to develop strategies to balance service across all faculty, staff, and graduate students.

6.5 Collect feedback from diverse faculty, staff, postdocs, and students on impactful professional development programs; use this feedback to guide future community participation on professional development.

6.6 Regularly assess and evaluate the DEI programs that the school provides to ensure that they meet the needs of their target populations.

A Clear Path Forward

In the Cockrell School of Engineering, we are committed to diversity in its many forms, and we aim to promote an inclusive and equitable environment with a strong sense of belonging for all students, faculty, and staff. We recognize that individuals from all groups have not historically had the same access to engineering education, in general, and to the Cockrell School, more specifically, and we seek to address this moving forward. We recognize that the different spaces that community members inhabit may require different approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We embrace the differences among us and strive to create learning and working environments enriched by those differences.

For questions or more information about the DEI Plan, contact Christine Julien, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Cockrell School of Engineering, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Previous Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plans

2019 Plan

2017 Plan