EED statement on diversity and inclusion

Given the recent historic times in our country, as your chair and fellow human being, I want all of you to know that I join the Gator community in condemning the senseless acts of violence and injustice against certain groups of our population.  We stand with President FuchsDean Frierson of the Graduate SchoolDean Abernathy of the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and acknowledge the pain that is being suffered by the people of color across the nation, in particular the Black community.

Personally, these systemic inequalities are weighing heavily on me.  Thirty years ago, I came to this country as an immigrant with only $500 in my pocket and a dream to make it here. Quickly I learned that to forge a future in this country, you must have quality education to back you up.  Unfortunately, not everybody has equal access to quality education.  As the father of two African American children and the husband of a Hispanic wife, I see inequality and racism. I have empathy for all of you that have to navigate a world that sees you through a different lens because of your skin color. I condemn those behaviors and bring a message of unity and hope for our Department of Engineering Education.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are crucial to the success of our department, our nation, and our world.  The diversity in my family gives me great joy and insights and drives me to foster a diverse and inclusive department with a multitude of ideas and directions. However, I understand that we all have different personal experiences and opinions about how to act now. This is a turning point for change, and as an engineering education community, it is time to work together to promote initiatives that support our students, faculty, and staff. It is our responsibility, but you are not alone. Our college and department will be giving you the opportunities to work on that.

As a follow-up to Dean Abernathy’s email regarding “thoughts on recent events”, Dr. Sindia Rivera-Jiménez (Department IDEA representative) and myself are here to support you. Please share with us any ideas about how to increase inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. The IDEA committee is discussing and planning further efforts for this summer and fall that we will share with everyone soon.

If you wish to process your reaction with a counselor, please contact UF Counseling and Wellness Center.

I am hopeful, that together we will create an equitable and inclusive environment for our academic community.

Hans van Oostrom, Ph.D.
Founding Department Chair

Sindia M. Rivera-Jiménez, Ph.D.
IDEA representative