Marcella Gomez Named Baskin School of Engineering’s First Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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During her five years as a faculty member at the Baskin School of Engineering, Marcella Gomez has made it a priority to listen to the needs of her students. Now she cites that as what led her to accept a new position as the inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“There are a lot of resilient students, a lot of awesome students,” Gomez said. “I think it’s essential to make them feel valued, that we love having them here, that they contribute to the university.”

In addition to supporting the growth of a diverse population of students, staff, and faculty, Gomez will take steps to reinforce the importance of bringing diverse perspectives to the university’s research mission and the creation of innovative and socially responsible technologies.

As a Mexican-American who was part of the first generation of her working-class family to graduate from college, she felt valued and supported in the education system at times, but was left to fend for herself in a harsh environment. competitive with others.

But throughout her studies, taking advantage of programs supporting diversity and inclusion, she found opportunities along her journey to complete her doctorate. in Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, win the highly competitive UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and achieve aspirations to pursue careers in research and academia.

At CalTech, she developed a scientific identity and a sense of belonging to the engineering community, and was inspired by a mentor truly invested in the long-term success of students. As a postdoc, she saw the value of networking and creating pipelines that increase the visibility and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM.

Now, she hopes to put those lessons into practice at UCSC and build on an existing desire to improve retention and ensure student success, making progress toward those goals while recognizing that there will always be more of work to do.

“Engineering leaders have recognized for decades the need to broaden the pipeline in engineering schools and the tech industry and manifest environments in which women and people of color have – and perceive – unlimited opportunities to contribute and thrive, but too little measurable progress has been achieved,” said Baskin Engineering Dean Alexander Wolf. “As a faculty member, Marcella Gomez has already demonstrated that she is a for change, and with her new platform as Associate Dean, I am sure she will be a powerful leader in our ongoing work to become more inclusive, more anti-racist, and more supportive of our entire community.

She will focus on recruiting and retaining faculty from underrepresented groups, while inspiring all faculty to contribute to student success by fostering engagement between students and faculty outside of the classroom. It will facilitate vertical communication between students, staff, faculty and administration. A key component will be mentorship for new faculty to help them develop a sense of belonging and chart a path to career success and impact.

“I don’t think there’s a way to do this job well without being out in the field talking to students one-on-one, talking to faculty one-on-one, and talking to staff one-on-one. -head,” Gomez said. . “I want to understand everyone’s background, needs, and experiences, and factor that information into higher-level decision-making.”

Being in touch with and advocating for these needs can help establish open communication between students, staff, faculty, and university management, as well as shape and execute university policies and programs to be truly effective in achieving common goals.

One of these major goals is to bring the school’s demographics in line with those of the state of California – a goal that will in turn foster a talented and diverse workforce in academia and industry. .

Gomez says that support for students, staff and faculty must come through culture and financial resources. She hopes to help create spaces to facilitate greater faculty engagement with students beyond the classroom, to foster connections and create opportunities to promote talented students whose resumes might not be. as strong as their peers because they haven’t had as many opportunities.

It will also seek to build on existing programs, such as the Multicultural/MESA Engineering Program (MEP), which provides students with academic and personal support, to enhance the student experience at all levels. These DEI and student success initiatives have grown with investment from the Dean, but still have plenty of room to grow—currently, MEP can only serve a fraction of students who qualify.

Other such programs include the Baskin Engineering Inclusive Center of Excellence, led by Carmen Robinson since 2020, which is a resource for advancing the academic and personal success of historically underrepresented students in engineering fields. The hub drives high-impact initiatives to help faculty create inclusive pedagogy and bridge achievement gaps, as well as student programs such as the Baskin Engineering Excellence Scholars (BEES), which provides academic support targeted at first-year engineering students in coding and math. classes, the areas that tend to have the most extreme achievement gaps.

Matt Guthaus, associate dean of graduate studies, has worked to strengthen Baskin Engineering’s Cal-Bridge computer science program, with the goal of increasing the number of California State University (CSU) students from traditionally underprivileged groups. represented pursuing doctorates in computer science at UCSC. Guthaus collaborates with Jim Whitehead, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, to promote and expand the Baskin Inclusive Curriculum and Engineering Pedagogy initiative. This currently includes Individual Teaching Consultation (IIC), which provides instructors with one-on-one opportunities to investigate a question they are facing regarding curriculum, teaching, or assessment, as well as the Engineering Teaching program. Community (ETC) which provides Senate faculty and lecturers with a weekly, welcoming and developmental opportunity to improve teaching and assessment practices in the community.

Whitehead also worked on a Student Success Enhancement Plan, an initiative to reduce and close the achievement gaps in classrooms that currently act as barriers for students to progress in their studies.

This summer, Baskin Engineering will welcome the second cohort of students and faculty funded by the Anti-Racism Fellowshipthat supports research that investigates racism and bias in technology/engineering or that explores tools to combat racism and bias through technology.

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