Georgia Tech’s mission to improve the human condition through innovation and the power of technology can only be realized if we attract, develop, and empower leaders from all backgrounds. Diversity of ideas and perspectives is indeed a necessary condition for innovation and a guarantee that solutions will help fulfill the needs of more people.
When Georgia Tech was established in Atlanta in 1885, only white men were admitted as students or hired as faculty. By the 1960s, Atlanta had emerged as an epicenter of the civil rights movement and Georgia Tech began admitting women and Black students. Over the next few decades, Georgia Tech would become increasingly diverse and, not accidentally, more influential.
Today we graduate more women and minority engineers than any other technological university in the nation and our faculty and leadership ranks are more diverse than ever before. We have also emerged as one of the leading technological universities in the world: we attract some of the best students from across the United States and around the world and we conduct more sponsored research than any other technological university. Our alumni have developed new technologies and have led companies that create economic opportunities and help improve lives around the world. Without our diversity of talent, Georgia Tech would simply not be the leading institution it has become.
Yet, for all the progress we have made, much remains to be done to become a truly inclusive community where every individual with potential can thrive. Talent is distributed equally across regions, neighborhoods, and social strata. But opportunity is often not. Our progress notwithstanding, every year we see far fewer students of color and women in our classrooms and our laboratories than live in the communities we serve. And we continue to hear reports that the experiences of members of underserved communities are not as embracing as they should be.
When in 2020 our community came together to adopt a new strategic plan, it became clear that diversity and inclusion would be instrumental to maintaining our upward trajectory and delivering on our mission.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion stems also from our institutional DNA as a public university that is committed to social mobility and social equity. Too many students with the potential to succeed at places like Georgia Tech don’t make it to our campus for reasons that have nothing to do with their talent or character and all to do with the financial and social resources available to them because of where they happened to be born and raised. A leading public university like ours has an intrinsic responsibility to expand access to those with less privilege.
This 10-Year Plan on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is our response to these challenges and opportunities. It is focused on three mutually supporting pillars of change:
- Creating an equitable and inclusive community.
- Recruiting, retaining, and developing a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff.
- Supporting innovative and inclusive scholarship and teaching.
This plan, like the Institute’s strategic plan, was created inclusively, through deep reflection, acknowledging the truth of our past, honoring our progress to date, and noting challenges. The plan contains our aspirations to become better by being known for both social and technological innovation for the greater good.
President, Georgia Tech