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Message from the Dean of Engineering on Diversity

The diversity of the College of Engineering students and faculty is not only a key pillar, but the foundation of its success. I personally have a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I strongly believe diversity enriches our engineering education, encourages critical thinking and strengthens our community.  Engineers are the community’s problem solvers and we need a fair representation of the community at the table in order to solve these problems.  I totally understand that more needs to be done to strategically recruit and retain underrepresented students and faculty in engineering, in particular from the black community. It is imperative that we all fully understand the problem, so that we may work together with the right solution.

In an effort to find the right solution, we need to listen to each other, understand each other and learn the problems first-hand. Early in my career here at UL Lafayette and for a period of over ten years, I served as the faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers.  It was a wonderful experience and gave me a different perspective and a better understanding of the African American student community here on campus.  Although I cannot relate to all their experiences, as both an ethnic and religious minority myself, I can relate to some of the experiences and issues of being from a minority group. I am committed to driving positive change toward racial justice.

Unfortunately, several groups, such as African American and female students, remain underrepresented in engineering, not only at UL Lafayette but around the nation. I strongly believe that the College of Engineering gains strength from the diversity in nationalities, backgrounds and identities represented among us. In fact, I hired the first female Assistant Dean in the College’s history, Ms. Corinne Dupuy who is a UL Lafayette’s Mechanical Engineering alumna.

We celebrate our differences and we encourage and support various viewpoints and openness of thought in our college and in our classrooms. I strongly believe that, beyond recruitment, we must also focus on retention of students from underrepresented groups. Recruitment efforts alone are not enough – we must support the success of these students by creating a community which is conducive to their success. It is well known that one of the best ways to increase the success of underrepresented students is to increase the representation of these groups amongst our faculty. Our College has come a long way in bringing in diversity, but we still have a long way to go and must go further to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

I believe that we can learn the most from those who are different from ourselves and that diversity – in all its forms—is a driver for innovation and academic excellence.

Thank you,

Dr. Ahmed Khattab

Dean and Professor
College of Engineering
University of Louisiana at Lafayette