Statement to the CEE Community from Our DEO

To our Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) Community — Students, Alumni, Colleagues, Staff, and Faculty

As I reflect on the tragic death of George Floyd and countless others at the hands of the police, and as I view the resulting protests throughout the nation for police reforms and an end to bias, discrimination, and systemic racism, I am also reflecting on our CEE community — our students who will go out and change the world, all our former students who are doing that now as professionals, and our faculty and staff who engage the public through their professional and personal actions.

Right now at the University of Iowa, CEE students, faculty, and staff are hurting — but none more so than our black students. It is important that we acknowledge the full and unjust weight of systemic racism that black and non-black people of color bear today and throughout the entirety of their lives. We all need to rally together to stand with those who are hurting, listen to their experiences and concerns, and commit to a path forward for positive change.

Our students are leading the way, standing in support of black students and the black community, and marching in the streets to demand an end to systemic racial violence and oppression at the hands of police. We must support and defend their right to participate in non-violent protests and speak out on racial injustice, without fear of dismissal for arrests or criminal charges, or fear of retaliation for making their voices heard. The department will use all our power to protect them from university repercussions for such actions.

Our faculty and staff are coming together to find steps that would strengthen our CEE community. Here again, our students are leading the way by offering concrete actions that will result in long-term reform. We will update our mission to reflect our commitment to supporting students of color and other underrepresented groups. We will work to review our performance on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will work to train faculty to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in their teaching, research, and service, and to help them to better support our students through times of extreme upheaval and trauma like we see today. And we will work to weave a common thread of ethics, and social and environmental justice, throughout our engineering curriculum.

We are blessed to have students willing and eager to engage with the faculty to make this happen. Faculty members know that we learn as much from our students as they learn from us. This has never been truer than it is now.

As engineers, in both professional and personal life, we are guided our values and ethics. Canon 8 (Treat All Persons Fairly) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Code of Ethics says:

Engineers shall, in all matters related to their profession, treat all persons fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status.

This cannon is about far more than who we hire. It speaks to how our projects impact people. It speaks to the distribution of the negative impacts of our projects as well as the distribution of their benefits. It speaks to our obligation as engineers to think deeply and explore the ways in which our projects can enrich lives. This is the way civil and environmental engineers contribute to solving social issues. It is what makes being an engineer so special.

As engineers, I challenge you to be a leader on this front. A leader that creates designs that exemplify justice to all people and to our environment. Over the next year, we will share resources with you to help advance these skills. By the same token, please share with us any resources you already use, and together we will make IOWA Engineers agents for change. 

Allen Bradley
Professor and Chair
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
The University of Iowa