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Let's Start Here

Story by
J. Murray Gibson, Ph.D.
Hispanic woman, white man and black male student walking in hall

Intentional focus on diversity, inclusion and ending systemic bias on our campus and beyond

As the nexus of two distinct universities, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering is uniquely positioned to build on the strengths of each of our great universities. The partnership of Florida A&M University, a top-ranked HBCU and Florida State University, a top-ranked Research-1 institution, brings unique opportunities for excellence, one of which is the prospect to be a leader with regard to diversity, inclusion and race relations in higher education. I believe that our unique diversity is a great strength. However, we know that we are not all that we could be, that the social injustice we see nationally is reflected in the college, and that we have a responsibility to be leaders and not followers in diversity and inclusion.

Embracing diversity, achieving inclusion and confronting bias has always been, and continues to be, one of our most important tasks in educating engineers. In the words of Ryunosuke Satoro, “Alone, we are a drop. But together, we are an ocean.”


Let’s Start Here initiative Leadership Committee

This group will outline our path forward into this uncharted territory. It will be under their counsel that we define the next steps. The table will be big enough for everyone, and there will be a seat at it for all who want to engage in a meaningful conversation about what it means—and could mean—to be FAMU-FSU Engineering.

Rachit Agarwal, FSU graduate student 
Ja’Niyah Allen, FAMU undergraduate student
Breda Arnell, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Sam Awoniyi, Department of Industrial &   Manufacturing Engineering
Mark Bacchus, Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Richmond Bowen, FSU undergraduate student
Nathan Brooks, Boeing
Sandra Bucklew, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc.
Yuqi Cheng, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Jair Cole, FAREVA
Lauren Daley, FSU undergraduate student
Michelle Douglas, Florida State University
Deborah Gautier, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering
Kimberly Hunter, Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering
Joyce Ingram, Florida A&M University
Ashley Johnson-Long, Corning, Inc.
Sungmoon Jung, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Mahogany Newell, NextEra Energy Transmission
Juan Ordonez, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Tracey Payne-Tellis, Aptiv Automotive Data Connectivity
David Perez, FAMU graduate student
Jeremy Phillips, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering
Garit Poire, Turner Construction
Kosi Sumpter, FAMU undergraduate student
Sabrina Torres, FSU undergraduate student


Message from the Dean

Dear FAMU-FSU Engineering family,
 
I am reaching out to you to connect during these difficult times with a heart that is troubled and frustrated by recent events. I am deeply disturbed by the insidiousness of injustice and inequity in our society, and I want to express my worry and concern for each of you. Please know that you are important; to your family, of course, but also to me, to our staff and faculty, your community, our nation, and the world.
 
Let's Start HereIn light of the current turmoil, I am grateful for what we are working to accomplish at our college—a unique and progressive partnership between two proud institutions whose history began in segregation. We have made progress toward equity and fairness in engineering education, but we still have a long way to go to achieve our dream.
 
The goal of improving diversity and inclusion within the college expands this year with a process we are calling #LetsStartHere. The first step, in the Fall semester, begins as each of us completes a detailed anonymous survey of our climate. Then begins an extensive and inclusive process to honestly identify any barriers—whether based on race, gender or other individual differences—that exist in the college, and to work on eliminating them. The process will be challenging, uncomfortable and possibly painful at times as we work through difficult and divisive issues. Watching the news has brought home, however, how high the stakes can be if we fail to take seriously the challenge of improving the world for all.
 
During the summer I will be assembling a LetsStartHere leadership committee composed of students, faculty, staff and alumni, to guide us through this difficult but cathartic process. I urge us all to fully engage in the process, but please let me know if you would like to play a larger role in shaping #LetsStartHere.
 
As engineers, we want to design and build a better world. Let us work together to make our college a model for the nation.

J. Murray Gibson
Dean, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering

P.S. You can read my Diversity & Inclusion Plan (April 2019) which will serve as a template for the structural growth I intend for FAMU-FSU Engineering.

Interested in being a part of the Let’s Start Here initiative? Volunteer below: