EECS department hosts retreat around inclusivity, diversity, equity

October 20, 2021

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science hosted an Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity workshop on Oct. 18. The half-day event included panel discussions, breakout discussions and a keynote address from former EECS faculty member Gregory Triplett.

During opening remarks, Dean Noah Manring reminded EECS faculty of the College’s mission of educational excellence.

“We educate the world,” he said. “That’s a lofty goal, and I’m humbled to be part of that. To educate the world takes all kinds of people from different backgrounds. It takes a rich and diverse community to do what we’re called to do.”

Triplett is now Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. He provided insights into the experience of undergraduate students, primarily those from underrepresented communities.

In addition to adjusting to the academic rigor of college, especially in a difficult discipline such as engineering, students are dealing with a number of external stressors such as racial injustice, COVID-19 and climate change, Triplett said. Students need a place where they can feel safe in these challenging times, he stressed.

Triplett encouraged faculty to make connections with students, such as finding shared research interests. Getting students involved gives them a sense of belonging and will increase their likelihood of graduating.

The IDE workshop was led by Ye Duan, EECS associate professor and the IDE Faculty Fellow for EECS and the Information Technology Program.

“We hope this retreat could enhance all of our awareness of inclusivity, diversity and equity and make our students more successful,” Duan said.

Duan is one of four IDE Faculty Fellows appointed last semester to better serve individual needs of students from the department level.