Stevens Dean Jean Zu: Making History, Fostering Diversity
In May 2017, Stevens welcomed Dr. Jean Zu as dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering & Science (SES): the first woman in history to be so chosen. She had previously been both the first female and first Asian department chair selected at the University of Toronto, as well as the first female president of the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers.
As both a woman and an immigrant, Dean Zu has experienced first-hand the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in academia — and she draws upon those experiences now to make women and others feel welcomed and supported in SES and at Stevens.
“I believe that higher education should be an inclusive experience for students and faculty of all backgrounds, even those not traditionally represented in STEM fields — including women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community,” she says.
Zu also notes that many of her own career experiences greatly influenced her leadership style and philosophy.
“Work-life balance is so important in today’s world where individuals must balance family and professional responsibilities,” she notes. “At Stevens we want to remove barriers to success, regardless of a person’s gender or background.”
One example: the dean has initiated new accommodations for mothers returning to Stevens after maternity leave.
Of the 36 new faculty members Zu has brought on board to SES since joining Stevens, ten (28%) have been women. She aims for the number of women faculty in the school to reach 30% by 2023.
“Stevens is a student-centric university,” Zu explains. “Our students represent some of the brightest minds in the world, and their success is our top priority. It is so important for students to have role models they can identify with as they pursue their educational and career goals.
"At Stevens, we pride ourselves in the diversity of our students and faculty.”
In recognition of these institutional efforts, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASME) recently awarded Stevens its Bronze Award for Diversity.
“We are honored to receive this recognition,” says Zu of the award. “We still have work to do in terms of diversity, and we are continuing to take steps to increase representation of women and minorities here at Stevens.”