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K-State Today

May 1, 2023

Carl R. Ice College of Engineering DEIB unit wins university award for enhancing diversity

Submitted by Division of Communications and Marketing

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, or DEIB, unit in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering is the recipient of the 2023 University Outstanding Department or Unit Award for Enhancing Diversity.

The award, established in 2003, recognizes exceptional efforts undertaken by a unit or department to enhance diversity at K-State.

The engineering DEIB team includes Amy Betz, assistant dean for retention, diversity and inclusion and associate professor; Ayumi Amama, instructor; Shana Bender, assistant director of the Ike and Letty Evans Academic Success Center; LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin, director of the Multicultural Engineering Program; Bailey Brown, teaching assistant professor; and Thurman Williams, office specialist II.

The college has seen record-level engagement with the DEIB unit through events like the Women in Engineering and Multicultural Engineering Program kick-off events this fall, which each drew more than 100 students. There has also been high attendance at meetings for the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Fundraising has also been a priority for the unit. In 2021, the college established an endowed fund for the Sue Barsamian Awards for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, which provides two $4,000 awards each year — one for a faculty or staff member and one for a student. Recently, an emergency scholarship fund was created to award $10,000 per year in assistance for students when unexpected needs arise such as computer or car repair. This process also led to the development of a finish-line award for students with financial need in their final two semesters before graduation.

In addition to excellence in diversity scholarship from faculty members — including several high-profile papers and presentations as well as ongoing collaborations and grant submissions — the college's DEIB unit is also actively creating new courses, curriculum and opportunities to increase the intercultural competence of students.

Brown and Amama have continued to revise and update the content in the engineering orientation and engineering problem solving courses. Amama also created a new CAT Community this fall, "Global Engineers," and Brown updated her engineering ethics course.

The DEIB unit's staff members have leveraged their own backgrounds and passions to improve DEIB across the university while simultaneously strengthening efforts in the college. Through their service in organizations like the LGBTQ* Faculty and Staff Alliance and the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance, the leaders of the engineering DEIB unit have emerged as diversity leaders across campus.

Members of the staff have hosted Wildcat Dialogues, presented in the "What Matters to Me and Why" lecture series, co-chaired the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance, and served as speaker for the LGBTQ Leadership Conference at K-State.

"The DEIB unit in the Carl R. Ice College Engineering displays a unique and profound blend of intellectual creativity, empathy, kindness and passion," said Matt O'Keefe, dean and LeRoy C. and Aileen H. Paslay chair in engineering. "This combination of traits has led to a truly innovative team that is at the forefront of scholarship and curriculum development in the college.

"Their contributions to diversity over the past year are making an impact on every student and faculty member in the college as well as our alumni and industry partners. I have no doubt they will continue their positive momentum forward into the future."