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Black Student Experience Task Force

The Black Student Experience Task Force was formed to learn about the lived experiences of black students at the Institute and present recommendations to ensure the campus is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive.

In Fall 2015, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson directed the formation of the Black Student Experience Task Force following allegations that several black female students were racially harassed on two separate occasions on campus. While these incidents led to the creation of the task force, the group was assembled to examine the broader issues of climate and culture at Georgia Tech.

The task force presented 11 recommendations grouped into the categories of programs, trainings, physical spaces, and planning and assessment, that were approved and implemented over a three-year period. 


1. Challenge – Expand OMED’s Challenge enrollment from 75 to 175 underrepresented minority and women students per program over the next three years. Challenge helps prepare incoming freshmen for a successful college career, both academically and socially, during a five-week intensive summer program.

2. FASET – Orient all new students and their parents, families, and guests to issues of diversity and inclusion and share campus resources that support Georgia Tech’s commitment to diversity. At least one new session at FASET will highlight the successes of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff at the Institute.

3. Intercultural Student Programs – Create and support collaborative intercultural student programs that foster interactions and learning among diverse student communities at Georgia Tech. 

4. Reporting System – Create a data infrastructure or submission tool that allows students to submit information detailing any experienced discrimination on campus. Submissions would remain anonymous.


5. Community Orientation and Training – Launch online and in-service training for faculty and staff that addresses issues of gender and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion within the student experience. Following this training, faculty and staff will serve as ambassadors for an equitable and inclusive Georgia Tech.

6. Cultural Inclusivity Leadership Training – Expand and modify leadership training for leaders of student organizations to include modules on cultural inclusivity and managing student diversity. Incorporate these modules into GT 1000 classes and other opportunities. 

7. Greek Education – Create a subcommittee of fraternity and sorority members who will plan programming on issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual assault for members of Greek Life. This subcommittee will also be tasked with evaluating the current state of Greek Life at Georgia Tech.

Physical Spaces

8. Multicultural Center – Create spaces where all students feel welcome on campus, in support of students’ overall adjustment and well-being.

Planning and Assessment

9. Strategic Plan – Examine how student diversity is operationalized through Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan. Prioritize and fund proposals that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion experiences for students.

10. Campus Climate Assessment – Conduct a broad-based campus climate assessment by an independent entity to obtain a deeper understanding of the concerns and experiences of all students at Georgia Tech.

11. Institutional Climate Change and Growth – Establish a joint student advisory group to advise and recommend actions that enhance diversity and inclusion experiences among Tech students.

Gender Equity Initiatives

In Fall 2015, President Peterson conducted a series of listening sessions to better understand the lived experiences of women on campus as well as develop ideas for enhancing gender equity and inclusion.

Following the President’s listening sessions on gender equity, Georgia Tech identified 11 initiatives that will be implemented to improve the experience of women at the Institute over a two-year period.

These initiatives were grouped into four impact areas: hiring, promotion, and tenure; professional and leadership development; leadership appointments; and recognition and increased visibility of the Institute’s commitment to gender equity.

Hiring, Promotion, and Tenure

  • Diversity Guidelines to Search Committees – Develop a search guidance framework with best practices and related policies for faculty and senior staff searches that are transparent and fair and yield the most qualified and diverse applicant pools.
  • Processes and Pathways to Advancement and Promotion – Review the performance management process for faculty to be aligned with career advancement, and develop a career track for staff that includes career maps and identifies core competencies.
  • Salary Equity Studies – Conduct gender equity surveys periodically for faculty and staff, and identify funding to meet salary inequity issues as appropriate.

Professional and Leadership Development

  • Professional and Leadership Development Programs – Develop leadership coaching for women faculty and staff, such as the Leading Women @ Tech program, and encourage faculty to be involved in student organizations. 
  • Family Friendly Programming and Policies – Revisit and strengthen the Family Friendly Task Force recommendations for faculty and staff, including dual hiring policies, parental leave, and others.

Leadership Appointments

  • Inclusive and Open Processes for Appointments – Require guidelines in the identification of candidates for faculty leadership positions. Also require inclusive and open processes for appointments to faculty administrative, named faculty, and Regents’ Professor and Researcher positions.

Recognition and Increased Visibility

  • Reporting System Awareness – Increase awareness of in-person and anonymous reporting channels for experiences of
  • Success Story Promotion – Regularly promote the success stories and achievements of women through internal and external communication channels.
  • Event Promotion – Promote events on campus that feature and celebrate women, such as the eighth Annual Diversity
  • Symposium’s focus on gender equity.
  • Gender Equity Data – Analyze data on faculty attrition and compile reports that provide employee data and trends.

Strategic Plan Advisory Group Initiatives

As outlined in its 2010 strategic plan, Georgia Tech is focused on engaging the campus community — which represents a rich tapestry of backgrounds, perspectives, interests, and talents — in celebration of diversity in all its forms. In pursuit of that ideal, survey data suggests some faculty, staff, and students expressed feelings of marginalization based on gender, race, and ethnicity.

Formed in response to Georgia Tech's 2010 strategic plan, the Strategic Plan Advisory Group (SPAG) solicited new ideas from the campus community each year that continued the implementation of the strategic plan and addressed gaps in advancing the goals of the Institute.

Based on the 2013 Climate Assessment Survey findings, a SPAG proposal was submitted by Pearl Alexander, Cheryl Cofield, Magnus Egerstedt, Beki Grinter, Pinar Keskinocak, Steve McLaughlin, and Beril Toktay in 2016 to launch three diversity and inclusion initiatives: 

  • Diversity and Inclusion Councils
  • Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program
  • Transformative Narratives

Diversity and Inclusion Councils

Taking a faculty/student/staff-led approach to diversity and inclusion, a network of councils was formed in each of Tech’s six colleges. The purpose of these Diversity and Inclusion Councils is a localized effort to identify and recommend solutions to any diversity-related issues – in order to raise awareness and address these critical issues.


Diversity & Inclusion Fellows Program

The Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program brings together faculty, staff, and students who individually and collectively advance their action, research, or teaching objectives while improving inclusivity on campus. This program is a bottom-up initiative, tapping into the creativity and diversity of thought among our campus community to crowdsource ideas that create long-term culture change.

Transformative Narratives 

Members of the Georgia Tech community were invited to share their personal stories through Transformative Narratives, a series of traveling exhibits designed to showcase the rich tapestry of our diverse campus population. These portraits captured varied aspects of our campus community members’ personal journeys but shared a common thread of introspection and self-expression.

Living Building Equity Champions

The Living Building Equity Champions (LBECs) were students charged with fully engaging in the development and realization of the Equity petal of The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech

Aligning with The Kendeda Building Equity Work Group Recommendation No. 1 ("Engage Underrepresented Groups on Campus In Building Design"), the LBECs worked closely with the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion to provide programmatic and thought leadership, expertise, and advocacy to continue promoting the Institute’s diverse student initiatives, programs, and efforts that facilitate our collective goal of student diversity and inclusion.

The LBECs were supported by The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech Academic and Research Council and the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain.

LBEC Responsibilities
  1. Provide input and feedback to the design and development of The Kendeda Building.
  2. Engage current students in The Kendeda Building’s equity, sustainability, and diversity efforts.
  3. Connect access to The Kendeda Building with the greater Atlanta community, particularly K-12 students.