Faculty support for diversity, equity, and inclusion in Caltech's Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences has inspired alumni, friends, and outside organizations to join in.
As the Caltech community focuses more attention on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS) has set an example for division-level efforts to cultivate an environment that enables all scholars to thrive and realize their full potential. With generous support from faculty, alumni, and other friends, the goal is to attract the brightest and most creative scholars to fulfill the Institute's core mission of expanding human knowledge and benefiting society.
In 2020, to help build a strong foundation for DEI within the division, each GPS faculty member committed $10,000 from laboratory discretionary funds to create an initial endowment of $400,000. Following the faculty's lead, the division and all its major centers contributed another $300,000. Then, members of the GPS Chair's Council, alumni, and trustees provided an additional $300,000 to the endowment.
This, in turn, inspired others to give.
A recent gift from the Rose Hills Foundation, for example, supports up to four graduate fellowships each year and enhances recruitment of postdoctoral scholars and faculty from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
Leigh Engen (BS '99), a member of the GPS Chair's Council who has supported DEI initiatives across campus, says she is inspired by Caltech's spirit of collaboration, particularly in GPS.
"It's my hope that these initiatives will increase the sense of belonging for all students," Engen says, "and that we will make sure collaborative experiences are available to everyone—as they should be—so everyone will have equal opportunity to be a part of the exciting stories coming out of Caltech."