Dean of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Francis J. Doyle III said last week he hopes the school will name a new head for its Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the coming weeks.
Doyle’s remarks come nearly four months after the office’s former leader, Alexis J. Stokes, departed in December 2021.
Stokes, who served as SEAS’s assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and belonging from October 2020 to last December before departing for a job in Harvard’s central administration, has left “big shoes to be filled,” Doyle said last Friday.
“We have a full-court press now on interviewing, screening, and now getting to finalists,” Doyle said.
Doyle said the school’s DIB office is in “good hands” in the interim under Christina Z. Patel, who has headed DIB initiatives following Stokes’ departure.
Doyle also said the school has made progress on recruiting diverse staff, faculty, and students, adding that SEAS is performing “well above national averages on diversity” compared to other schools.
Doyle acknowledged, however, that a gender disparity remains between SEAS and the College overall.
“We still have to close the gap,” he said.
Shi Le Wong ’22, who serves as a DIB fellow at SEAS, wrote in an email that SEAS needs “more transparent and regular data reporting” in order for affiliates to evaluate the school’s diversity progress.
“While we definitely put out diversity related recruitment events, I think we will need more specific feedback mechanisms to determine if the diverse student recruitment is actually a result of our efforts rather than by chance,” she wrote.
Doyle said he hopes to hire a new assistant dean who will be able to implement an updated school-wide climate survey.
Peter W. “Winston” Michalak ’22, who also serves as a DIB fellow, wrote that the climate surveys are “one of the most helpful instruments” for measuring the state of diversity at SEAS.
“I think a sense of inclusion manifests itself in people in different ways, and it is difficult to find a single metric to evaluate the inclusiveness of the campus as a result,” he wrote in an email. “That said, I think the climate surveys have been and remain one of the most helpful instruments for gauging how well SEAS is doing.”
Doyle also said he hopes the new assistant dean will be able to integrate well with SEAS faculty and staff.
“I need somebody coming into this role who’s going to be very effective working across all of the stakeholders at SEAS, and that's no small feat,” he said.