Yale Daily News

Over a year after University President Peter Salovey directed each school to develop a five-year plan to prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science’s efforts are “underway in earnest,” according to a SEAS community-wide email from Dean Jeffrey Brock. 

The school created a committee on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, or DEIB, following Salovey’s Oct. 2020 announcement. The SEAS inaugural committee consisted of students and faculty and was formed with the intention that each member remain on the committee for one calendar year before opening up committee membership to other SEAS affiliates. The school is currently looking for new members, Brock wrote in a Feb. 17 update to the SEAS community. Ben McManus ’78, senior administrative assistant in chemical and biomedical engineering and one of the inaugural SEAS DEIB committee members, said that he volunteered to serve on the committee to contribute further to his alma mater.  

“Service on this committee would be a part of my legacy as a Yale College alum, and a way to positively contribute to the culture of SEAS, beyond my regular staff position,” McManus said. 

McManus explained that the School of Engineering & Applied Science created the committee partly in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests that took place during the summer of 2020. He said that serving on the DEIB Committee allowed him the opportunity to further participate in and better the Yale community despite no longer being a student. 

Although undergraduate students were not included in the first rendition of the School of Engineering & Applied Science DEIB committee, Brock stated in his email that the school is looking forward to including undergraduate students on the committee in the future. 

After one year of existence, the committee has fulfilled its initial goal of creating a five-year plan for the School of Engineering & Applied Science. The plan includes multiple programs, which the school intends to implement on a schedule over the next few years. 

Committee member Ethen Lund GRD ’25 explained that, in addition to formulating this plan, one of the committee’s goals is to consolidate school-wide efforts at increasing DEIB in the community, which is why he was interested in joining. 

“I was interested in joining to contribute to a more unified and coordinated approach towards advancing DEI at SEAS and Yale as a whole,” Lund shared. 

According to Lund, the committee has accomplished this goal. Not only did it come up with a five-year plan, but it began to implement the suggestions that the school wants in place within the year, thereby easing the burden on individual departments, he said. 

However, that does not mean that departments within SEAS are completely reliant on the school-wide plan. Assistant Dean for Science & Engineering Sarah Miller shared that departments created their own Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plans in the fall of 2020. Both the School of Engineering & Applied Science committee as a whole and the individual departments need to stay on track with their plans, and Miller believes it to be the committee’s responsibility to ensure this happens. 

“Naturally, the committee will need to lead our efforts to implement the year 2 goals for SEAS,” Miller said. “In addition, the committee will need to make sure SEAS is supporting departmental DEIB efforts as best we can.” 

McManus agreed, stating that the committee must continue to measure and monitor the school’s culture for changes in DEIB due to efforts by the committee and the departments. 

Brock’s update is only the beginning of the school’s endeavors to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within the community. Not only does the school have to continue to implement the proposals that the DEIB committee produced, but it also needs to make concerted efforts to understand the ever-evolving school culture in order to best serve the School of Engineering & Applied Science community. 

The School of Engineering & Applied Science welcomes anyone interested in joining the second iteration of the DEIB committee to submit their interest by March 15. 

The School of Engineering & Applied Science will announce new committee members in April. 

Janalie Cobb is an Audience Editor for the News and a former University staff reporter. She is a junior from Chicago in Davenport College double majoring in political science and psychology.