The University of Kansas School of Engineering has one of the oldest minority recruitment and retention programs on campus.
An overwhelming shortage of minority students in engineering schools prompted many colleges and universities to establish programs that encourage minority students to pursue careers in engineering. The KU School of Engineering responded to this shortage by starting SCoRMEBE.
SCoRMEBE, the Student Council for Recruiting, Motivation and Educating Black Engineers, was born in 1970. Three African-American engineering students at KU — William Nunnery, Gene Kendall and Ralph Temple — sowed the seeds for the program that would attract more minority students through promoting engineering to high school minority students as well as providing academic and financial support to engineering students at the university. Faculty and administration at KU, including, Dr. Don Green, Dr. Floyd Preston and Dean William Smith, helped the program become established and flourish.
In 1971, the School of Engineering took its commitment a step further by appointing Dr. William Hogan as the school's first assistance dean of minority affairs. With Hogan at the helm, the program grew and minority enrollment increased. In 1977, SCoRMEBE was named one of the four best minority engineering programs in the country by the committee on Minorities in Engineering, an appendage of the National Research Council.
Florence Boldridge was hired director of Diversity Programs in 1983 and served until retiring in June 2017. Boldridge focused on expanding the program to make it even more welcoming to students of diverse backgrounds. In 1987, the School of Engineering established a student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In 1990, the office established a student chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and took on a larger role with the KU chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.In 1995, the office changed its name to reflect its greater diversity. It is now known as Diversity Programs for the School of Engineering.
In July 2017, Andrew Williams was hired as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to oversee Engineering Diversity & Women's Programs. Early in his tenure he reimagined and rebrandeded the program with a new name: IHAWKe, which stands for Indigenous, Hispanic, African-American and Women KU engineers.
In 2019, Engineering Diversity & Women’s Programs earned national acclaim when the American Society for Engineering Education named KU one of 29 institutions across the country to receive an ‘exemplar’ bronze rating—the highest available classification during the review period—as one of the “nation’s leaders in inclusive excellence.”
Achievements and Milestones
- In 1900, Charles A. Reece graduated as the first African-American engineering student from the University of Kansas.
- Minority Engineering Programs is the first minority scholarship established at the University of Kansas.
- MEP was the first program of its kind for minority engineering students in the Big Eight.
- It was the first minority engineering program in the Big Eight to establish a student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, NSBE, in 1982.
- It was the first minority engineering program among Big Eight schools to have a minority professor of engineering as its director.
- In 1975, it organized and developed the Minority Engineering Symposium for students and corporate representatives.
- In 1985, it assisted in establishing the first minority engineering program for precollege students, the Mid-America Consortium for Engineering and Science Achievement.
- It established a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, SHPE, chapter in 1987.
- It established an American Indian Science and Engineering Society, AISES, chapter in 1990.
- It was granted membership in the National Consortium for Graduate Education for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) in 1990.
- In 1990, MEP was granted membership in the American Association of Blacks in Engineering.
- In 1990, the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers was incorporated into MEP.
- It established one of the first early entry programs for entering minority students on the KU campus.
- It established closer ties with major corporations for purposes of student internships and permanent positions.
- It established and dedicated the Minority Engineering Student Study Center.