Brenda G. Hart Endowment for Diversity Initiatives established
When Brenda Hart joined the faculty at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering in 1973, not many female or minority students were enrolled.
“There were so few women and African American students at Speed that I knew them all,” says Hart, who now serves as Speed School’s director of student affairs.
Back then, few female, African American, Hispanic or Native American students were encouraged by teachers or counselors to go into engineering, and there were few engineers of color or female engineers for students to look up to, Hart says.
Much has changed since then. In spring 2009 there were 1,822 students enrolled in Speed School; of those, 77 were African Americans and 288 were women.
Hart has been at the forefront of this change. For the last three and a half decades, her mission has been to encourage women and minority students to enter the field of engineering.
“We live in a diverse world, and it’s important that the workplace reflect that,” she says. “We need more students from underrepresented communities to go into the STEM fields.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Hart helped establish the Speed School’s Black Engineers and Technicians Association, now known as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), for which she is a faculty adviser. She also helped create and advises the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter. Hart is director of INSPIRE (Increasing Student Preparedness and Interest in the Requisites for Engineering), a four-week summer program that introduces high school students to engineering. She also organized a Career Day for female high school students and conducts this program each year.
To honor Hart's 35-plus years of service and to create a funding stream to perpetuate her work, alumni, colleagues and supporters have established the Brenda G. Hart Endowment for Diversity Initiatives.
“This endowment will support in perpetuity the priorities to which Professor Hart has dedicated her career—encouraging women and minority students to earn degrees in engineering,” says Judi Cooper, director of development for the Speed School.
Specifically, the endowment will provide funds for UofL’s NSBE and SWE student chapters and Career Day for high school girls. It will also provide financial help—to cover scholarships and book awards and to help purchase required computers—to women and minority students who need it.
Gifts to the Brenda G. Hart Endowment for Diversity Initiatives may be made online at louisville.edu/giving or by contacting Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-852-1248.
What will the funds support?
INSPIRE (Increasing Student Preparedness and Interest in the Requisites for Engineering)—This four-week summer program introduces high school students from the Louisville metropolitan area to engineering. While INSPIRE targets students underrepresented in the field, it is open to all students with above-average math and science skills.
National Society of Black Engineers—UofL’s student chapter of NSBE strives to recruit, educate and graduate engineers of diverse backgrounds. At the annual NSBE awards banquet, Speed School honors outstanding students who represent these values.
Career Day for female high school students—Each year Speed School hosts Career Day for high school girls interested in engineering. Students learn about admission to Speed School, first year courses, co-ops and financial aid. They also participate in engineering laboratory demonstrations.
Financial assistance to students—Speed School wants to ensure that lack of finances does not hinder talented women and minorities from earning their degrees. To this end, it offers financial aid to students who need it. This assistance may take the form of scholarships, book awards and help in purchasing required tablet PC computers.