ASEE Prism Magazine - October 2002
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The Diversity Dilemma

Frank HubandLast year, the ASEE Engineering Deans' Council asked us to collect data on the ethnicity, race, and gender of engineering faculty. The resulting data reveals that women and minorities are still profoundly underrepresented as faculty members in most engineering colleges. In 2001, women comprised only 8.9 percent of tenure/tenure-track faculty in engineering schools; Hispanics made up 2.9 percent; and African-Americans accounted for 2.1 percent. This month's Prism cover story, “Who's Missing in the Faculty Club?” takes a hard look at the root of the problem—the fact that relatively few females and minorities graduate from Ph.D. programs. As ASEE President Eugene DeLoatch says, "You cannot increase the faculty overnight if you don't have the available pool from which to pull." Increasing graduate enrollment is the long-term solution, but what can colleges can do now? Writer Margaret Mannix talked to a dozen engineering deans across the United States and came up with candid advice, as well as tips that range from growing and hiring your own professors to "poaching" to looking to the private sector as dot.com companies fail. There's no clear road map, but it is clear that diversification ensures a better future for the engineering profession.

One school that is consistently producing minority engineers and scientists is the University of Maryland at Baltimore Campus (UMBC). "Above the Crowd" follows UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and looks at the success of the school's program for gifted African-American undergraduates. Freeman Hrabowski grew up in hard times in Birmingham, Ala. As a youngster, he went to jail for demonstrating against segregation, and he lost a school friend in the Birmingham bombing in 1963. Hrabowski resolved to make a difference, and this article examines his efforts and the success of UMBC's program with minority students in the fields of engineering, math, and science at a time when minorities are vastly underrepresented in those fields.

In June of this year, Eugene DeLoatch was inaugurated as ASEE president at the annual conference banquet in Montreal. You can read his profile in "A Man of Commitment," which also examines his goals and priorities as ASEE president for the coming year. An important component of his goals will be to attract an increasing number of minorities to engineering.

I hope that you find these articles informative and thought provoking. As always, I welcome your comments.

 

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher
f.huband@asee.org