WPI’s mission includes maintaining a campus community where each person is welcomed, valued, and feels a sense of belonging. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are crucial to our success as a leading research and technology institution because they impact the experiences of each and every member of our campus community.

Working Together for a Welcoming Campus Community

WPI’s approach to diversity, inclusion, and equity makes our campus a community where members feel an authentic sense of belonging. The unique lens each of us brings to WPI makes our campus better. We want this community to be one of safety and welcome—a place where community members feel their actions contribute to progress and positive change. When we all work together, it frees our students to do what they do best—learn and make new discoveries that will change the world.

Together we are a force more powerful than any one of us. Our experiences, identities, beliefs, and backgrounds bring valuable perspectives that make WPI distinctive. We are a university of great minds multiplied.

At WPI, we know how important diversity, inclusion, and equity are in having a welcoming and accepting community. But diversity and inclusion don’t mean the same thing and the words aren’t interchangeable.

As part of our efforts to make conversations and strategies more consistent, WPI will use specific definitions when talking about these topics. Following the definitions set by of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE), an organization committed to a collaborative change process in higher education, WPI has established guidelines for what we mean when we talk about these topics. NERCHE convened a group of prominent, expert chief diversity officers across New England to define the terms "diversity," "inclusion," and "equity."

Diversity

Individual differences (e.g., personality, learning styles, life experiences) and group/social differences (e.g., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, physical or cognitive abilities, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations) that can be engaged in the service of learning.

Inclusion

The active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity—in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities (intellectual, social, cultural, geographical). This engagement with diversity has the potential to increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

Equity

Creating opportunities for equal access and success for historically underrepresented populations, such as racial and ethnic minority and low-income students, in three main areas:

  • Representational equity: the proportional participation at all levels of an institution
  • Resource equity: the distribution of educational resources in order to close equity gaps

  • Equity-mindedness: the demonstration of an awareness of and willingness to address equity issues among institutional leaders and staff

WPI's Values Statement

We are a community that stands for civility and respect. We stand for acceptance of others and champion those who may need compassion and understanding. We are an inclusive community that respects peaceful discord and upholds a fundamental belief that all members of our community deserve to feel safe. Our collective mix of thoughts and experiences enrich those fundamental values that have long guided our university. As we navigate through times of change, know that our values remain. 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Michelle Jones-Johnson Committed to Progress On and Off Campus

The Baker-Polito administration reestablished the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, naming Michelle Jones-Johnson, WPI’s Vice President for Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer, to the 17-member committee. Cape Cod Today published an article about the task force: “Governor Swears In Task Force on Hate Crimes.”

Bonnie Walker Honored with Emerging Leaders Award

Bonnie Walker, WPI’s Executive Director, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, was one of three recipients of the Emerging Leaders Award by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Diverse Professionals Roundtable. Read more about the award in the Worcester Business Journal and Go Local Worcester.

STEM Faculty Launch Workshop

Finding a tenure-track position in a STEM field is tough, but if you’re not prepared, it’s even harder. And you still have to excel when you land your dream job. WPI runs an annual STEM Faculty Launch workshop for graduate students and postdoctoral students (women and underrepresented people of color are encouraged to apply) across the country who are seeking those roles. Our faculty expertise and nuts-and-bolts career advice for future academics helps brings diversity to academia.

Diego Vargas Blanco, PhD student and Fulbright Scholar

As one of an elite group of Fulbright Scholars at WPI, biology and biotechnology PhD student Diego Vargas Blanco studies Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that infects the lungs. While in high school in Peru, Blanco thought he would become a lawyer, but a seminar on genetic engineering to control the mosquito population changed his whole plan. Read more about his story in Diversity in Action (on page 45).

Student Groups Celebrate Diversity

There are many opportunities on campus for students to connect with others who share their interests and experiences through programming and events and student-run organizations. From Black History Month to Passover Dinner, WPI students have access to a wide variety of different initiatives, programs, and resources that celebrate culture and identity, give a voice to a diverse student body, and raise awareness through education and ongoing dialogue. Some active groups include the Alliance, the Black Student Union, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the International Student CouncilMuslim Student Association, the Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers, the Brazilian Student Association, Japanese Culture Club, Active Minds, and the Gender Equality Club.

Building Connections at WPI

The Connections Program, run through WPI’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, aims to help students of color in STEM fields succeed at WPI and in their future careers by providing access to educational, professional development, and networking opportunities.

Read about the program here.

Assisting International Students

As home to the Office of International Students and Scholars, the International House at 28 Trowbridge Road offers advice, guidance, and a welcoming space for international students at WPI. With extensive knowledge of essential services and issues of concern to international students, the team here supports the academic, professional, and personal growth of students while ensuring a smooth transition at WPI.

WPI's Welcoming Environment

WPI is committed to an environment welcoming to all. We ensure inclusive spaces including several Gender Inclusive Restroom Locations and a nursing room in the Gordon Library that can be reserved here. And the staff at the Gordon Library has complied a Pride Resources (PDF) list for access to the thousands of journal articles, newspaper articles, streaming video and other media referencing LGBTQIA+ issues. WPI also has OASIS House, a designated safe space for the community.

Using Preferred Names and Finding Gender Inclusive Restrooms

WPI's Strategic Plan includes a commitment to a campus that welcomes everyone. In taking steps toward that inclusive atmosphere, students, faculty, and staff may choose to have preferred names featured on their ID cards and are encouraged to use preferred pronouns on office signs or in email signatures. Read more about preferred names and gender inclusive restrooms at WPI here.