Cockrell School of Engineering appoints first assistant dean of diversity, equity and inclusion

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The Cockrell School of Engineering appointed its first assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion this month.

Christine Julien, an electrical and computer engineering professor, began her position on Sept. 1, according to a UT press release. She said the Cockrell School decided to create the position to recognize the work that more than 8,000 engineering students are doing and to bring different perspectives to the program.

Julien said she plans to reaffirm the school’s commitment to diversity and contribute to diversity initiatives started two years ago within the Cockrell School. 

“I’m the first person to hold this position, so part of the first year of this is defining that,” Julien said. “I’m working primarily with engineering social services, and we’re doing a lot of good things related to diversity. It’s nice to bring it all together, so we can learn and share from one another.”

Civil engineering senior Oscar Teran said he believes Julien is a good choice because she has received several awards and recognitions for her teaching and research efforts. He said she has also established great relations with her staff and students.

“Professor Julien is definitely a good fit ... because before she even got elected for this position, she was establishing diversity by creating groups such as the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering (and) bringing positivity to the department,” Teran said.

Julien said the program will improve faculty practices in the future by enhancing communication and research practices to keep its goals focused across all platforms.

“This fall, we’re going to be working on improving our practices in communicating to the people that we are committed to diversity,” Julien said. “In the relative near future, we’d like to do a climate survey of the Cockrell School in general just to get a sense of how the students feel about the environment and other activities we’ll undertake.”

Mechanical engineering junior Mayo Onasanyasaid he looks forward to the initiatives Julien will bring.

“(The program) would allow minority students to feel like they belong,” Onasanya said. “When I look around my classes, I don’t see a lot of people that look like me since I’m a minority, but by appointing someone who cares about diversity and inclusion, I think a lot of change would be brought.”