Published: July 24, 2020 By

I write to you as the new chair of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. I continue to reflect on the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd, as well as the resulting protests. I am reminded yet again that racism and injustice are still rooted strongly in our communities and institutions. Continued vigilance in identifying and addressing racism in all its forms is needed to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. I stand with our students of color in their efforts to raise awareness and bring about equity and justice.

Our educational institutions have an important role to play in addressing the ongoing stain of racism and creating a society that is fair and just, while celebrating our diversity. As a new chair, I've been considering ways that we might identify problems and correct our procedures to ensure fairness for all. I've asked our Climate Committee to help us identify concrete actions that we can take to ensure that we promote an inclusive environment in our department, one in which all voices are heard. I've asked our Undergraduate and Graduate Committees to carefully craft policies for student recruitment and admission that promote a diverse student body, and begin identifying the ways in which we can enhance our strategies for retention and creating a sense of belonging. I've asked our Faculty Recruiting Committee to ensure their processes are able to recruit and hire diverse candidates, and ensure they are receiving consultation and training around bias mitigation and inclusive search practices.

Finally, we are inviting students to join many key committees to allow their voices to be heard in developing procedures that promote diversity and inclusion. These are just some of our initial steps, and I want to personally invite you to contribute to our efforts.

Shortly after starting as chair, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of undergraduate electrical and computer engineering students as part of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) National Leadership Conference that CU Boulder hosted last month. In our breakout, I connected with 15 students from all over the country. I was struck by their passion and persistence to not only achieve excellence in their chosen field of study, but also to assume leadership positions within the organization to help others to pursue their dreams. Engaging with these student leaders gives me great confidence that we will see a better society by working together in the future.