Efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity have resulted in Lafayette’s engineering programs consisting of 36% women students and nearly 25% from underrepresented groups, approximately double the national average. The 2017 ASEE summary, “Engineering By the Numbers,” reported Lafayette College among the top 20 schools in percentage of bachelor degrees awarded to women and ninth among all engineering colleges and universities in percentage of women tenured/tenure-track faculty.

Initiatives to promote an inclusive culture include, among various others, the Clare Boothe Luce Research Scholars program providing women engineering students with faculty-mentored research opportunities; support for students from Lafayette’s chapters of National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) to attend the group’s national conferences; major facilities upgrades to Acopian Engineering Center to create more inviting, collaborative spaces; and coordinated events with the Office of Admissions and Society of Women Engineers.

Scott Hummel, William Jeffers Director of the Engineering Division, was among seven engineering deans who formed an ad-hoc group that developed the initial concept of a nationwide commitment to diversity by engineering colleges. The resulting Engineering Deans Diversity Initiative was distributed to the dean of every engineering program in the nation. This call to action on diversity has been endorsed by more than 250 engineering schools and was highlighted on Aug. 4, 2015, when President Obama announced the program at the White House. “Lafayette engineering is proud to have had a real impact in pushing this initiative to deans across North America,” says Hummel.

The ASEE recognition distinguishes Lafayette as a leader in inclusive excellence demonstrating commitment to:

  • supporting groups underrepresented in engineering;
  • regularly assessing the composition, policy, culture, and climate related to underrepresented groups in engineering;
  • providing programming that inspires and encourages students in K-12 or community college to pursue STEM fields in postsecondary education;
  • developing an action plan for continuous improvement.

Highlights of Lafayette’s recent diversity and inclusion activities include Hidden Figures Week in November 2018, which featured a keynote address by Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, and the inaugural Women in STEM Week in April 2019. Both programs featured panel discussions, lectures, and lunch talks exploring issues related to underrepresented groups and women in science, technology, engineering, and math. The College also established the Kate and Walter Scott Endowed Faculty Chair. This position is responsible for mentoring diverse students, including the Minority Scientists and Engineers chapter, which serves as an umbrella group for NSBE and SHPE. In addition, the College recently introduced a first-generation outreach/mentoring program to connect first-generation and low-income students from underrepresented backgrounds with mentors on campus. These and many other ongoing and emerging efforts reflect the College’s core values and steadfast commitment to fostering an inclusive environment.