Institute Diversity Celebrates Year of Success
The most pleasant surprise Archie Ervin has had during his first year at Georgia Tech is a simple one — people are eager to improve diversity at Tech.
“I have been blown away by people’s willingness to roll up their sleeves and work on diversity,” Ervin said. “So many students, faculty and staff members have approached me about various projects. It’s encouraging to know that people are as passionate about this subject as I am.”
As Tech’s first vice president for Institute Diversity, Ervin felt it was important for Georgia Tech to develop an official Institute Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to demonstrate the importance of diversity to Tech’s vision for academic excellence and an inclusive community (see below for more information).
“Tech is doing things to improve diversity, but we haven’t been promoting the fact that we are,” Ervin said. “So, it was important to develop a statement that conveys to the campus community and beyond that these issues are priorities.”
It was also necessary to take an inventory of existing diversity initiatives at Tech. The Diversity Programs Committee was formed to take on this task, and subsequently came up with the idea to develop a Diversity Portal. This website will feature organized resources and information related to diversity at Tech in one location.
“At the moment, Tech does not have a central web repository where people can go to locate information about all of the Institute’s diversity initiatives,” Ervin said. “Our hope is that the site will be up and running by fall.”
Ervin also worked with the FOCUS program, which supports underrepresented students including racial/ethnic minorities and women, to improve and enhance outreach and recruiting programs. (FOCUS aims to increase the number of advanced degrees awarded to minority students.) In one year, student participation in FOCUS has increased by 30 percent.
Ervin also partnered with the GT ADVANCE Professorship program, which seeks to increase the participation of women in the scientific and engineering workforce, to develop an action plan with goals to lead and influence Tech’s gender equity agenda for the next three years. For example, the group will be developing an equity training model to lead bias/diversity training initiatives and creating search committee protocols to advance gender and racial diversity among faculty and leadership at Tech.
In addition to these other successes, Institute Diversity organized the first annual MLK Institute Lecture, which featured speaker Myrlie Evers-Williams, and spearheaded Tech’s efforts to become a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, which recently elected Ervin as second vice president.
Another priority for Ervin during his first year has been to fill executive-level positions to address Institute Diversity’s growing needs. For example, Professor Rosario Gerhardt of the School of Materials Science and Engineering was hired last fall as an executive director for research and institute collaborations.
“Rosario is responsible for identifying collaborative opportunities for achieving inclusive excellence — a concept that suggests that our institution’s overall excellence is enhanced by the diversity of the campus community,” Ervin said “She is working with both internal and external stakeholders to pursue funding opportunities.”
He also created a Student Diversity and Inclusion division and appointed S. Gordon Moore as executive director. In this role, Moore provides leadership to enhance the academic, personal and professional career success for underrepresented minorities, first-generation students and women in science, technology, engineering and math majors.
In the months to come, Institute Diversity will complete a climate assessment to learn how students and faculty and staff members experience the Tech community and what their perceptions are regarding how inclusive and supportive the climate feels.
“For example, one question that might be included is ‘Do you have regular opportunities to interact with and learn from peers whose backgrounds, gender, race, etc. are different from yours?’” Ervin said. “The information we gather will give us some baseline knowledge about the Tech community and climate that can be used to develop a strategic action plan, which will guide our efforts over the next several years.”
Eventually, Ervin would also like to create an Institute Advisory Board on Inclusive Excellence, which would meet twice a year and would be comprised of faculty and staff members, students and external stakeholders.
“The group would serve as a sounding board for new goals and initiatives and would help ensure that Institute Diversity stays on the right path as this unit and its programs continue to evolve,” Ervin added.
Institute Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Diversity is one of Georgia Tech’s greatest strengths and one of the major priorities identified in our 25-year strategic plan.
At Tech, we embrace and leverage diversity in all its manifestations. We are proud that we are one of the most diverse universities in the world with students who represent every state in the nation and more than 100 countries. In the years ahead, our goal is to continue to build a campus culture of collegiality, close collaboration, global perspective, intercultural sensitivity, respect and thoughtful interaction among a diverse community of students, employees and alumni.
We realize that, in order to achieve our vision for Georgia Tech as a leader in influencing the major technological, social and policy decisions in the 21st century, we must recruit and retain faculty, staff and students from a wide array of backgrounds, perspectives, interests and talents. In doing so, we will create a community that exemplifies the best in all of us — our intellectual pursuits, our diversity of thought and our personal integrity. Our mission to achieve inclusive excellence means unleashing the full potential of Tech’s human capacity to create a better, sustainable future for us all.
You are invited to join us on the journey of creating and sustaining a future that builds upon the talents of all members of our community in addressing the major challenges of this and future generations.