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Engineering Impact Report

Advocate for Gender Equity

The Women in Engineering ProActive Network awarded University of Dayton School of Engineering Dean Eddy Rojas its 2019 Advocates and Allies award for his leadership in implementing programs that advocate, mentor and support the success of women in engineering.

WEPAN presented the award in April at its annual conference held in conjunction with the annual Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference in Crystal City, Virginia.

Since joining the University as dean in 2014, Rojas has created a Diversity in Engineering Center, which is home to the School’s Women Engineering, Minority Engineering and International Engineering Student programs. Two-thirds of new faculty hires have been women or minorities. More than a quarter of incoming students are women and nearly a fifth are minorities; both groups have set records during Rojas’ tenure.

Initiatives such as the Women Engineering Program, living/learning opportunities for women in STEM that are now available all four years, and the overall supportive climate at UD have resulted in a female graduation rate above the national average for engineering (28 percent vs. 22 percent) and near gender parity in programs such as chemical engineering (48 percent of 2019 graduates are female).

Women now comprise a third of the school’s leadership council, formerly an all-male group. As the 2019–20 academic year begins, the school will have its first female department chair.

“Dr. Rojas’ efforts haven’t stopped at the hiring of female personnel, as he puts extensive time, effort and resources into the professional development of his faculty, thereby providing every opportunity for success,” said Kristen Krupa-Comfort, who took over as the chemical engineering department chair July 1.

A year ago, the School named its first female endowed chairs after the process of nominating and evaluating those positions was revised to be more equitable. Dr. Margaret Pinnell, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and associate dean for faculty and staff development, was appointed as the Bernhard Schmidt Chair in Engineering Leadership while Rebecca Blust, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Management, Systems and Technology and director of the Innovation Center, has been appointed as the Frank M. Tait Endowed Chair for research and innovation.

In addition to these academic and program initiatives, Rojas also has made substantive changes in the School’s home, Kettering Labs. He provided financial support to create a lactation room and changed restroom spaces to provide more equitable access to these facilities for female faculty, staff and students.

“Dean Rojas has been instrumental in bringing the Advocates and Allies program to UD’s campus as one way to empower men to positively affect the climate for their female colleagues,” said Lisa Borello, director of the University of Dayton’s Women’s Center. “In our pilot offering of the program this spring — renamed locally as UD Men for Gender Equity — we had more than 100 men across campus attend, due in large part to Dean Rojas’ outreach to his fellow administrators, engineering faculty and colleagues in the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI). With his public support and intentional outreach, Dean Rojas is sending a powerful message to his male peers about his commitment to gender equity.”


School of Engineering

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254