Feb 14, 2022 12:00 PM Eastern Time

Hiring Practices for Success in Achieving Faculty Diversity

with Lance R. Collins,
Vice President and Executive Director of the Innovation Campus

It is possible to achieve diversity in the faculty of technical disciplines such as Mechanical Engineering.  In my experience, it requires two ingredients: first, there must be an unwavering commitment by the leadership of the department and the college; and second, there must be careful attention paid to the practices that underlie the selection of the search committee, the search process itself, the identification of finalists, and recruitment of the top candidate.  In particular for the second ingredient, the faculty must become self-aware of how subtle, unconscious, human biases can inadvertently reinforce the status quo.  I will discuss these elements through the lens of my prior experiences at Cornell University as Director of the Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and as Dean of Engineering.

Lance R. Collins in 2020 was named the inaugural vice president and executive director of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus planned in Alexandria, VA.  Prior to that he served as the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering at Cornell University from 2010-2020 and the S. C. Thomas Sze Director of the Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from 2005-2010. In 2011, he was part of the team that successfully bid to partner with New York City to build Cornell Tech, which opened its Roosevelt Island campus in 2017.  In his role as dean, Collins accelerated the college’s efforts in diversity, overseeing the increase in the proportion of underrepresented minority students from 8 to 19 percent, and the percentage of undergraduate women from 33 to 50 percent, more than twice the national average.  For those efforts, he received the inaugural Mosaic Medal of Distinction from Cornell Mosaic and the Edward Bouchet Legacy Award from the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.

Collins is a professor of mechanical engineering.  His research is focused on the application of direct numerical simulation to a broad range of turbulent processes.  He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. In 2014, he received the William Grimes Award from the AIChE and in 2021 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  Collins graduated from Princeton in 1981 with honors and holds a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, all in chemical engineering.