Associate Professor Joshua Sangoro is known for the high quality of his teaching and research within the department. He now applies his diligent approach to new areas as CBE’s inaugural Associate Head for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This new role was created as part of the college’s DEI initiatives, which prioritize and guide activities to meaningfully better the culture and climate of the college in DEI areas.
“The CBE department is on a great trajectory by numerous metrics,” said Sangoro. “An enhanced DEI is one of the key areas that we need to improve to get to the next level of excellence.”
He sees four priority goals: organizing the CBE departmental community, providing guidance regarding changes and practices, determining a path for sustained improvements, and facilitating an infrastructure to aid outreach and pipeline initiatives.
“We have constituted a taskforce comprised of excellent, highly motivated, and resourceful representatives of the faculty, staff, and students,” said Sangoro of the first goal. “This taskforce forms the core group with the responsibility of leading the transformation of our department in all aspects of DEI.”
The taskforce developed a draft of guidelines for DEI initiatives and is in the process of collecting feedback from throughout the department to refine the document and align CBE’s DEI goals with the college’s strategic plan.
I view my role here as a facilitator to shepherd this process of transformation on behalf of the CBE department head. I believe that compassion, respect, transparency, and accountability must be our key guiding principles.”
The team is examining sustainable approaches that address the unique needs of the department, rather than adopting generic approaches that do not take unique strengths, experiences, and the land-grant mission into account.
“We are aware that this is a challenging task, and remain grateful for the overwhelming support from the CBE community to date,” said Sangoro. “It helps a great deal that the department leadership is fully invested in improving DEI.”
The department plans to plug into the many on-going outreach activities coordinated by the college’s Office of Diversity Programs. The taskforce will also spearhead a partnership with non-PhD granting institutions of higher education in the state to establish a sustained pipeline of students from minority and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Sangoro credits two outstanding mentors here at UT for helping him build his career toward taking on such a leadership role for DEI.
“Professor Emeritus Roberto Benson played a critical role in helping me get established as a junior faculty at UT,” he said. “Although he was a faculty in a different department, he graciously offered to serve as my informal mentor. Whenever I felt discouraged or unsure of my next steps, I would simply walk over to Roberto’s office and would usually come out with new perspectives on navigating life as a minority faculty member.”
Sangoro also appreciates the ongoing support of CBE Department Head Bamin Khomami.
“Bamin took a personal interest in my professional growth and guided me at every stage of my career at UT,” he said. “The unwavering support from the department made me feel welcome and valued as a junior faculty. Having learnt and benefited from superb mentors both in and outside of my department, I am prepared to give back by intentionally facilitating the development of sustainable mentoring frameworks for faculty, staff, and students, especially from underrepresented minority groups.”
Sangoro feels that CBE leadership, faculty, and staff share a strong commitment to advancing DEI goals, and that this translates into a successful outlook.
“That said, we are growing and will certainly hit some bumps,” he said. “But this combination of institutional goodwill and commitment is precisely what we need for sustainable progress in DEI within CBE for many years to come. We will work hard to ensure that we attract, recruit, and hire excellent and diverse faculty, staff, and students in line with our vision and land grant mission.”