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Dartmouth Engineering Earns ASEE Silver Award for Diversity Efforts

Mar 07, 2023   |   by Catha Mayor

Dartmouth Engineering earned the Silver Award from the Diversity Recognition Program of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for "significant progress" in Thayer's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals.

The 2022 "Women of Thayer Reception" hosted by Dean Alexis Abramson and Professor Laura Ray at the Dartmouth Organic Farm. (Photo by Catha Mayor)

Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth is one of three engineering schools nationwide to achieve this status, currently the highest level of distinction in ASEE's diversity program, which launched in 2020 to accelerate diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering and technology across higher education institutions in the country.

"We are honored to receive this recognition, and I want to acknowledge the collective efforts of our students, faculty, and staff who actively commit to making diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority," said Alexis Abramson, dean of Thayer School of Engineering. "At the same time, I also want to recognize that we must keep striving to push for further progress."

Thayer was recognized, in particular, for its "significance of achievements to-date" in the representation of women among faculty and graduate students, as well as for its "commitment and efforts made towards infrastructure, recruitment and access, community engagement, and retention and success," according to ASEE.

"This is one important marker in our continued work towards building a truly inclusive community where every student, faculty, and staff are seen, celebrated, and have opportunities to reach their fullest potential," said Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Petra Bonfert-Taylor, who noted that Thayer is currently in the process of developing a more comprehensive strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion plan to guide its ongoing efforts.

Master of Engineering Management (MEM) students Srishti Chaudhary and Runqing Liu represented Dartmouth at last year's Society of Women Engineers (SWE) National Conference.

Of the progress noted in the award, women faculty comprise nearly 25 percent of the total engineering faculty at Thayer, exceeding the national average of 19 percent. In addition, female students now comprise 47 percent of students enrolled in Thayer's master's degree programs, which include the Master of Engineering, Master of Engineering Management, and Master of Science programs. The national average of female students in engineering master's degree programs is 30 percent.

In addition, students from underrepresented backgrounds, who are also US citizens or permanent residents, comprise 29 percent of Thayer's domestic student population. The national average is 19 percent. Thayer has also increased resources for programs, such as Dartmouth Emerging Engineers, to support, mentor, and retain more students who may not have followed the typical STEM path early on in their academic careers.

ASEE's Diversity Recognition Program requires institutions to first attain Bronze level status before becoming eligible to apply for Silver. Thayer earned Bronze-level recognition in 2020 and was among 53 institutions applying for Silver this past fall. Applications were first reviewed by ASEE's Engineering Deans Council (EDC) Committee on DEI. Those receiving unanimous support were then reviewed by a second committee to ensure consistency and reaffirm progress since receiving Bronze.

"It was clear from the applications that many institutions are focusing significant time, energy, and resources on programs to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion," wrote Donald Leo, chair of the EDC Committee, "and recognizing the important role that all of our institutions play in continually improving the engineering profession."

Thayer, along with University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the University of Oregon—the three institutions that attained Silver status in this recent round—will be eligible to apply for Gold award in future years.

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