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Engineering Impact Report

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

During the last five years, the School of Engineering has doubled down its efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. Indeed, the School is seen as a leader across campus.

Larry Burnley, vice president of diversity and inclusion, was hired in 2016 to create an Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Extensive training began and an outside consultant was brought to campus to map the University’s diversity efforts over the past five years and make recommendations for strategic change.

All of these institutional changes dovetailed nicely with the School of Engineering’s existing strategic plan and years of commitment to recruiting and serving a diverse group of future engineers.

As Burnley noted, “At the School, Eddy Rojas has acted boldly to diversify the faculty and student body. Since 2014, two-thirds of new faculty are women or persons of color.”

“Students should be able to imagine themselves at the front of the classroom,” Rojas said. “Diversity doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to train for and actively work toward.”

The School has been offering increased support to the departments for faculty searches. This includes offering an annual workshop for all search committee members that focuses on equity in the search process. Topics include implicit bias, legal issues and steps to ensure a more equitable search.

The dean’s office provides administrative support for the search process, which allows search committees to focus on evaluating the candidates equitably rather than completing paperwork. This support includes the creation and placement of ads, flyers, and emails to attract a diverse pool of qualified candidates. Recruiting now happens at affinity-based professional conferences, and the School hosts an annual research colloquium to familiarize promising graduate researchers with the University of Dayton.

While the School of Engineering has in recent years been the most diverse academic unit on campus, there is certainly room for improvement.

The existing Women Engineering (WEP) and Minority Engineering Programs (MEP) were elevated to become the Diversity in Engineering Center (DEC) under the leadership of executive director Laura Bistrek. The DEC added Ting Li to serve international students, Gerica Brown as director of MEP and Shawnee Breitenstein as director of engineering engagement overseeing student recruitment.

Faculty lecturer Beth Hart directs WEP, a program that traces its roots back 46 years to a summer engineering camp for women, one of the first in the country. She also advises living/learning groups that are available to women STEM majors all four years.

With additional resources and using a data-driven approach, the DEC has reinvented the student recruitment process at the academic level, increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities studying engineering at the University of Dayton and leading by example for other academic units. In fall 2017, DEC helped recruit the largest, most diverse class in School history with near-record academic achievement.

No matter their background or ethnicity, once students enter UD they find success.

UD’s retention rate of 91 percent is 10 percentage points higher than other private institutions offering doctoral degrees and 13 percent higher than the national average for public institutions offering doctoral degrees. When broken down by ethnicity, UD’s first-year retention rate for each group, including Black/African American (93.4 percent) and Hispanic (88.7 percent) shows that these students do extremely well compared to peer institutions.

UD’s overall six-year graduation rate (79 percent) is almost 14 percentage points above private institutions offering doctoral degrees nationally and 21 percentage points above public institutions offering advanced degrees. Broken down by ethnicity, Asian students graduate from UD at the highest rate (81 percent) followed by Whites (80 percent) and Black/African American (71 percent). All groups were above peer averages, ranging from 6 percentage points for Hispanics to 32 percentage points for Blacks/African Americans.

Women are also doing well in engineering at UD. Nearly 30 percent of this year’s engineering graduates were women, and programs such as chemical and materials engineering are nearing gender parity.

As Larry Burnley likes to say, “Making UD accessible to those who have been marginalized and excluded makes us all better.”


School of Engineering

Kettering Laboratories
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0254