Meara M. Habashi, Ph.D., Specializes in Creating Supportive Climates for All While Dismantling Systemic Bias

The University of Virginia School of Engineering announced today the appointment of Meara M. Habashi, Ph.D., as the new associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. Her appointment begins Aug. 1.

Meara M. Habashi, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Meara M. Habashi, Ph.D., is UVA Engineering's newly appointed associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Habashi comes to UVA from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, where she has served on the faculty since 2016, following five years teaching psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa. She is a clinical associate professor of management, with expertise in social and workplace behavior.

She leads Purdue’s Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Management. The center empowers women to overcome gender obstacles in the workplace and prepares women and men to lead and excel in a diverse workforce and changing social climate. For three years ending in 2020, she also served as assistant department head for Krannert’s Department of Management.

“Meara is a scholar and leader in diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as a passionate advocate for people from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM,” said UVA Engineering Executive Dean Pamela M. Norris, who led the hiring process. “She will be a game-changer in our community’s efforts to create a supportive climate for all while dismantling systemic bias that presents obstacles for diverse populations.”

Habashi’s experience spans administration, research, teaching, service and engagement, all domains that will be important to meeting UVA Engineering’s goals for a culture of inclusive excellence.

“I am honored to be offered this opportunity,” Habashi said. “The University of Virginia and the School of Engineering have clearly committed to confronting the challenges of the past and building a culture of respect and opportunity for students, faculty and staff. I am eager to contribute to harnessing that energy and enthusiasm to effect real change.”

Habashi’s appointment continues the School’s long-term investments in diversity, equity and inclusion, guided by its core value of excellence through diversity. Investments include the Center for Diversity in Engineering, which completed a renovation and expansion in 2020. The center leads a highly successful summer Bridge Program that welcomes and prepares incoming first-year students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in engineering. UVA Engineering alumni have recently stepped up to contribute to the center and its initiatives.

In addition, UVA Engineering is preparing to welcome its fourth cohort of incoming first-year students as part of the A. James Clark Scholars Program, established through support from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation. The program provides unique educational and financial opportunities to exceptional students from populations traditionally underserved in STEM.

UVA Engineering’s many efforts led to the School being named in 2019 among the first in the country to earn a bronze award from the American Society for Engineering Education’s Diversity Recognition Program. The School is the top public engineering school in the United States for its percentage of women earning undergraduate degrees, among schools with at least 75 engineering graduates. UVA Engineering also has the top graduation rate of public engineering schools in the country for all students, including students from traditionally underrepresented groups such as African-American and Hispanic students.

Habashi cited these accomplishments as evidence that the School is poised to make significant further progress.

“The search committee was impressed with Meara’s understanding of our diversity, equity and inclusion aspirations and her strategic ideas for taking us to the next level,” said William Epling, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and leader of the search committee.

Among Habashi’s priorities, working with UVA Engineering’s incoming Dean Jennifer L. West, will be to lead collaborative efforts to develop UVA Engineering’s inclusive excellence plan, aligned with the University’s Inclusive Excellence framework. She also will lead collaborative implementation planning for the recommendations from a Racial Equity Task Force, which released its report to the UVA Engineering community in March following the University’s Racial Equity Task Force.

“We will collaborate across the School and University to leverage all available resources with a focus on four primary areas: climate and culture, curriculum and instruction, recruitment and retention, and policies around diversity, equity and inclusion,” Habashi said.

“Beyond her leadership and scholarship in diversity, equity and inclusion, Meara clearly cares about people, listens deeply and is passionate about UVA Engineering’s mission to make the world a better place,” Dean Craig H. Benson said. “We look forward to great things to come with Meara as part of our team.”

Habashi will join the Charlottesville community with her husband, Jason Clark, and children Jonah, 10, Micah, 7, and Jaxon, 3.