Eventually, the goal is for everyone to have a strong sense of belonging and be able to thrive academically and professionally here at the College of Engineering and Computing. For that goal, we need everyone to be a part of our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
– Lucy Yu, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion
As part of the College of Engineering and Computing’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) vision, the college is committed to being nationally recognized as a transformative and inclusive academic institute. To continue the CEC’s efforts to create an academic environment where everyone can fully realize their potential, Mechanical Engineering Professor Lingyu (Lucy) Yu was recently named the new associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. Yu succeeds Computer Science and Engineering Professor Csilla Farkas, who was the inaugural associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I look forward to working with Lucy as this is a most important position that touches every facet of life in the CEC and beyond,” says Dean Hossein Haj-Hariri. “Lucy has great ideas and unbound energy. But this is not a job for one person; it is an opportunity for all of us.”
Why were you interested in the position?
“When the position opened last summer, I started looking back on my career. I joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2010 as a tenure track assistant professor. I went through the process and eventually earned a promotion to full professor.
I thought, ‘How did I make that happen?’ Then I realized it wasn’t just me alone. I have been closely connected to, mentored, supported and valued by my colleagues and friends at the CEC community. There were some tough times, but I made it through with their help and support. Now it’s time for me to give back to this community and people.
I also want to make a broader impact and help more people, especially those underrepresented and underserved minority and women groups. I'm very excited to join the DEI workforce at this college and lead these efforts.”
How will your DEI efforts positively affect the college?
“Feeling supported and valued leads to a sense of belonging. It makes people more comfortable to focus and thrive on their research and educational responsibilities. That's why it's so important to promote inclusivity and equity in the college to support our diversity programs. That's how I see those three parts coming together.
Together, we need to focus on improving diversity in the college so we can serve the community in a better way. And we can educate our students to be more prepared in the diverse global community. But diversity also means that we need to bring in more people from different backgrounds, especially those from underrepresented and underserved groups.”
What plans do you have for continuing to make DEI an important component of the college?
“Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority at the college. We will continue our efforts to create activities and events to promote recruiting and retention of underrepresented and underserved minority and women. At the same time, we will continue cultivating the diverse, equitable and inclusive culture for everyone. Among the many efforts we have made, several highlights are from our college leadership. Our dean signed the ASEE Deans Diversity Pledge. Three of our department chairs are from either underrepresented minority or women groups. That’s how we put a priority on diversity.
One of my plans is to work with different units at the college and other associate deans to find resources and develop diversity events and activities for our students, staff and faculty. We want to bring in a more enriched experience and prepare our students for future diverse workplaces and our staff and faculty for professional development.”
How can faculty and staff help with your efforts?
“I would like to call on everyone to participate. Diversity, equity and inclusion is not for a single person. We are all in this together. I encourage our faculty and staff to participate in activities and events. Their presence manifests the college’s priority on diversity.
Mentoring is very important, particularly for those from underrepresented minority and women groups. From my personal experiences, I benefited tremendously from mentorship. We plan to create a mentorship network for our underrepresented minority and women students that will need active participation from our faculty and staff.”
Will students be involved in your efforts?
“I’m counting on our students to continue these diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. When they graduate and go into the workforce, I want them to be the DEI advocates there. Diversity starts from awareness, so there will be resources and training to be prepared for the workplace. I want them to actively participate to ask questions and learn more. I also encourage our students to think about what they can do to promote diversity on campus. We also encourage conversations with students to share their opinions for resource needs and ways for promoting diversity.
I'm always here to talk and direct students to the right person or resource and work together.”
Yu received her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and master’s degree in mechatronics from Beijing Jiaotong University in China. She earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2006. Yu joined the CEC in 2010.