Cindy Finelli

Professor of EECS

Director of Engineering Education Research Program

College of Engineering

Being your best DEI self: Think of a time when you were at your best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. What happened? Who was there? Why did you feel at your best?

To support the #STRIKE4BLACKLIVES and #ShutDownSTEM efforts, I held a community-wide Zoom discussion for EER faculty, staff, and students to talk about issues related to racism and injustice with colleagues, learn about what we can do, and maybe plan some concrete next steps to affect change. The open forum discussion provided a safe space for members of our community to have difficult conversations, and we did identify some action items to try to make a difference. For instance, we decided to use our EER seminar series as a platform to both amplify the work of Black and other minoritized scholars and to showcase research about the experiences of minoritized engineering students and/or engineers. Our Fall EER seminars have been hugely successful – over 200 unique individuals have attended our five events, representing over 70 institutions. Though the messages we’ve heard in the seminars have sometimes been hard, it has been powerful to know we all committed to advancing DEI.

Wishes for the future: How would you imagine your environment needing to be for you to feel that you don’t have to do DEI work anymore?

If the undergraduate student population in engineering reflected the demographics of the state of Michigan, we would be closer.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?

I’m surprised and flattered to receive the MLK Spirit Award.