The DEI commission shared their report directly with SEAS students today and asked for feedback regarding its content.

On Tuesday afternoon, the SEAS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Commission Co-Chairs Shih-Fu Chang and Helen H. Lu shared the commission’s draft report with SEAS students over email. The email can be found in its entirety below. The co-chairs stated that SEAS Dean Mary Boyce assigned the commission to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan for Columbia Engineering, resulting in this report. Columbia affiliates can read the entire April 2021 report here

The Commission shared that they found three priority areas that greatly impact DEI: faculty and students, environment, and integration. This past fall, the commission focused on these priority areas in a series of DEI awareness workshops to discover which practices best help improve them. The Commission also took into account “extensive feedback” regarding past DEI initiatives from Columbia Engineering affiliates. This research resulted in the Commission’s creation of three pillars that outline their DEI strategy: talent, environment and culture, and accountability and recognition. The pillars fall into six different goals that will guide the Commission’s DEI Strategic Action Plan.

The co-chairs then asked for the SEAS community to review the report and share their feedback in this form. They also thanked all of the report contributors and everyone’s dedication to “advancing and nurturing a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for the Columbia Engineering Community.”

Email from the DEI Commission co-chairs sent to SEAS students, at 2:57 pm on May 11th:

Dear SEAS Undergraduate Students,

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) commission, charged by Dean Mary Boyce to formulate a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan for Columbia Engineering, has prepared a draft Commission report with a detailed action plan and recommendations that is ready for review. 

The draft report can be found at the Commission website (link).

The Commission has identified the following priority DEI impact areas.

  • Faculty/Students:  strengthening the pipeline for student and faculty recruiting would lead to a more diverse and inclusive environment.
  • Environment:  prioritizing a welcoming culture for students of all backgrounds would attract more talent to the School and aid in recruitment.
  • Integration: better integration of DEI across research, education, and innovation would create the type of infrastructure to support all of our DEI efforts.

Focusing on these priority areas, the Commission engaged closely with every SEAS department through the DEI awareness workshops conducted in Fall 2021 to identify best practices and formulate recommendations.  Additionally, the work of the Commission was informed by extensive feedback from stakeholders across the Columbia Engineering community. Through these efforts, three critical pillars, each encompassing key DEI elements, have emerged and will anchor our DEI strategy:

  • Talent (Recruitment, Retention, Mentoring, Advancement)
  • Environment and Culture (Awareness, Visibility, Community/Engagement, Integration)
  • Accountability and Recognition (Recognition, Incentivization, Assessment, Accountability)

These pillars are organized into six distinct action plan goals outlined in the DEI Commission Report that will guide our DEI Strategic Action Plan.

As you review the Commission report and recommendations from the priority groups, please also consider the following.

  • What challenges do you anticipate in the implementation of the Action Plan?
  • What other opportunities should be considered to promote DEI?
  • Please share your efforts in integration of DEI of research, education and innovation

We invite everyone to provide feedback for the draft report by filling out a survey form including the above questions.

The survey form can be found at the Commission website (link).  

We would like to thank the commission members and everyone who has contributed to this critical effort. We look forward to your feedback and thank you for your commitment to our collective goal of advancing and nurturing a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for the Columbia Engineering Community.  

Shih-Fu and Helen

SEAS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission co-chairs

Columbia’s campus via the Columbia Engineering website