UC Davis Vice Chancellor Renetta Tull Recognized for Extraordinary DEI Efforts

Quick Summary

  • The ECEDHA Diversity Award recognizes campus leaders who have promoted campus diversity, equity, and inclusion
John Janowiak and Renetta Tull
Executive Director of ECEDHA John Janowiak and Vice Chancellor Renetta Tull  

UC Davis’ Vice Chancellor - Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) and Adjunct Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Renetta Tull will receive the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Head Association’s (ECEDHA) Diversity Award at their annual conference in March 2022. ECEDHA is the leading association for electrical and computer engineering educators, composed of nearly 250 ABET-accredited ECE university department heads or chairs from across the United States and Canada. The Diversity Award recognizes campus leaders who have gone above and beyond legal requirements to promote an inclusive campus. 

“This award reflects how UC Davis has taken a leadership position at the table in the broader discussion about DEI among ECE departments all over the country,” says Tull. 

Leadership Towards Equity and Justice

This past year Tull and Chancellor Gary May presented on DEI-related topics at a West Coast ECE department chairs conference. In addition, she helped write National Science Foundation grant proposals that include DEI-related goals. Finally, she has expanded the PROMISE Engineering Institute and assisted with strengthening UC Davis’ position within the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME). 

“Within engineering circles, COVID-19 helped bring people together for broader virtual discussions on these topics, as did, unfortunately, George Floyd’s death. As a result, the lines of communication have opened further, and I’m glad to have a strong background in both DEI work and electrical engineering so that I could join the conversation when it arose,” says Tull. 

Tull says that faculty and staff at UC Davis are receptive to learning about DEI issues and receiving training on overcoming implicit bias. In addition, they are reaching out to her with thoughts on how to implement the training. 

Intentional Outreach, Warm Welcome

She encourages intentional outreach to diverse audiences to make university processes, such as faculty recruitment, more equitable. “Develop relationships with colleagues, advertise job positions in magazines and other media serving historically marginalized communities, and continue to share opportunities with colleagues at institutions and professional organizations serving diverse scholars  and their student chapters.”

Tull offers this advice from personal experience, as she landed her first professional academic position after meeting with faculty at a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) convention. 

After recruitment, an intentional focus on welcoming faculty, students, and staff to campus is also critical. “A big part of DEI is having a welcoming attitude. These sorts of approaches help everyone. We should have the attitude where we all want everyone to succeed, rather than thinking of engineering school as some sort of obstacle course where we compete to be the last person standing.” 

Developing a sense of community and collegiality within the university through social and networking events is also critical for everyone to feel that they belong. “COVID has slowed this down for now, but it’s coming back,” she says. 

While working at another university, Tull secured a series of grants to take students down to engineering conferences in Latin America. “Engineers are so welcoming in Latin America, much more than you see in the U.S., and I wanted our students to see that engineers can be nice people who have fun and laugh.” 

Continuing with Gratitude

As for future DEI goals for her time at UC Davis, Tull says that she plans to continue implementing the university’s strategic vision, working towards the goals they have set. 

Finally, she underscored how grateful she is for the chance to collaborate with faculty and other administrators. “With each month I spend here, I feel even more connected to the College of Engineering.” 

She thanks Chancellor Gary May and department chair Andre Knoesen for their support and appreciates the congratulations from Dean Richard Corsi and ECEDHA Executive Director John Janowiak. 

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