Assistant dean appointed to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives

The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering recently welcomed its most diverse incoming class of students to date, with a 34 percent increase in the number of women and 25 percent increase in students of color. While celebrating these gains, the college aims to enhance them further through the appointment of an Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. Filling this new role is Melissa Burt, who has been developing diversity and inclusion initiatives for a decade as Education and Diversity Manager, first for the Department of Atmospheric Science and more recently for the college.

Melissa Burt
Melissa Burt

“I’m honored to begin this new role,” Burt said. “It really highlights the commitment of our dean and college to diversity and inclusion.”

Fostering inclusivity

In her expanded position, Burt will continue to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment in the college, and focus efforts for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff and students. She will lead strategic planning and implementation of diversity, inclusion and equity goals, and play an active role in university-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“The increases in our freshman class for women and students of color is fantastic,” she said. “I am excited to work with our undergraduate recruitment team to further strengthen our strategies for recruiting diverse students.”

Burt already has some ideas in mind to help accomplish that goal.

“I would like to develop additional programming for first-, and even second-year students, with a focus on mentoring and support that will help with persistence rates and strengthen their identity as scientists and engineers.”

Rooted in science

Burt’s identity as a scientist runs deep. She first joined CSU in 2005 as a master’s student in Prof. Dave Randall’s research group in the Department of Atmospheric Science. She earned her M.S. degree in 2008 and started working that same year as the Education and Diversity Manager for the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP), a National Science Foundation science and technology center headquartered in the Department of Atmospheric Science. Upon completion of her Ph.D. in 2016, her position as Education and Diversity Manager expanded to include the entire college.

“I still deeply love atmospheric science and identify as a scientist,” she said.

Burt will continue to serve as director for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, based in the Department of Atmospheric Science, and support other department diversity and inclusion efforts, including student recruiting.

“I look forward to working with our faculty, staff and students as we make substantive progress toward equity and foster a more diverse and inclusive community for all.”