Alumni Board pledges $100k to support DEI efforts

11/28/2023 Julia Park

The department's alumni board has pledged an incredibly generous gift of $100k to the "MechSE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Support Fund," which will support scholarships and travel grants, among other new initiatives.

Written by Julia Park

Diversity is the demographic mix of the university community and involves recognizing and respecting everyone’s unique qualities and attributes. Equity is the fair and respectful treatment of all people and involves the creation of opportunities and reduction of disparities in opportunities and outcomes for diverse communities. Equity is the process; equality is the result. Inclusion is the creation of an environment where everyone feels welcome and respected. It means creating the conditions in which everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in the University and everyone’s talents are valued and celebrated.

women students in classWith this in mind, last year, the MechSE Department established the “MechSE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Support Fund.” The MechSE Alumni Board has generously pledged a gift of $100,000. Their combined personal and company gifts currently total $65,350.

The DEI funds raised by the Alumni Board will support four major initiatives:

  1. Scholarships for undergraduates to increase MechSE’s competitiveness in the Big 10 with respect to excellent scholastic candidates who are first generation-in-family to attend college, enhance the MechSE learning community from a holistic perspective, or have financial hardship.
  2. Mentoring Program for first-generation students and students from otherwise under-privileged backgrounds – who, as the data shows, are most at risk for dropping out of the program due to academic challenges in their first two years. 
  3. New invited seminar series, bringing in academic experts on DEI to present the latest and most innovative practices and research.
  4. Travel grants to help undergraduates and graduate students attend national-level DEI meetings to promote MechSE and their own advancement.

“The incredible generosity of our Alumni Board will allow MechSE to continue doing what it does best, which is developing successful future leaders in engineering. I am so proud to be part of the MechSE Alumni Board and to support our alma mater in this effort,” said Patrick McAuliffe, president of the Alumni Board and Vice President of Engineering at Werner Co. “As a MechSE grad myself, I know how impactful it is to have a degree from Illinois and this initiative will help bring that education and opportunity to more students who share our passion for engineering and innovation. It will also help strengthen our MechSE community and foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.” 


You can make your own gift toward MechSE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives Fund via our online donation form, or reach out to Kendra Wolf, Associate Director for Advancement.

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This story was published November 28, 2023.