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Stanford Engineering is expanding its equity and inclusion efforts

A message to Stanford Engineering students about antiracism next steps from Dean Jennifer Widom

Dear Stanford Engineering students,


Like so many of you, I am deeply distressed by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Ahmaud Arbery, and, tragically, the countless other victims of racial violence perpetrated for centuries in the United States against members of the Black community. 

The School of Engineering condemns all forms of racial injustice, and we are committed to taking action to combat anti-Black racism. In addition to enhancing support for our existing equity and inclusion efforts (below), we are taking the following immediate concrete new steps: 

  1. We have allocated significant funding to the School of Engineering Graduate Student Advisory Council, which is comprised of student leaders from each academic department, for new activities, events, and programs around antiracism that benefit the graduate and postdoctoral populations.

  2. We have earmarked significant additional funding to support new and existing activities proposed by undergraduate engineering student groups — specifically activities focused on increasing inclusion and expanding access to engineering fields to students who have been systemically marginalized. 

  3. We are opening a staff position that adds to the dean’s office equity and inclusion initiatives team so that we can implement training and facilitation offerings, learning resources, departmental support, and collaborations, with antiracism being a priority.

In addition, we will double down on our many existing equity and inclusion initiatives in the School of Engineering, which are aimed at countering the effects of institutional racism that have systemically prevented specific populations from accessing, entering, and successfully completing engineering degrees. They include programs that:

  1. Support incoming and current Stanford undergraduates by introducing them to engineering fields, providing support for academic success, and creating networking and social opportunities with peers and researchers.    

  2. Help prepare incoming PhD students through onboarding experiences and robust connections to labs, and develop communities of support for graduate students such as Womxn of Color in Engineering.

  3. Recruit and attract graduate students, including both on-site recruitment at the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions, and programs that introduce undergraduates from other colleges and universities to Stanford, either through short conferences or in-depth summer research fellowships. 

Finally, we will work closely with Stanford Engineering departments and other units on the many initiatives being launched and strengthened within their programs.

Along with my faculty and staff colleagues, we have heard from many of you over the past few weeks. You shared feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, and in some cases despair. It is clear we have much work to do in our school and at Stanford to put an end to anti-Black racism and ensure that everyone in our community feels safe and secure and has the opportunity to succeed. We are absolutely committed to doing that work. The initiatives we are announcing today are only the beginning.

Jennifer Widom