The OCR elected to review the graduate programs in electrical and computer engineering for academic years 2011-2012 through 2015-2016. To determine whether graduate applicants and students, regardless of their sex, had equal access to the opportunities and benefits offered by the Engineering Department. The OCR evaluated nine areas. Two of those areas will be discussed.
Recruitment and Outreach
DOE Title IX implementing regulations prohibit recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of sex in the recruitment of students. 10 C.F.R. § 1042.310. To determine if these engineering programs were in compliance, the OCR reviewed the recruitment and outreach activities.
UF reported that it engaged in a wide array of outreach and recruiting efforts:
- Recruitment and information sessions for undergraduates currently attending the university;
- Attendance at national conferences (e.g., the Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Society of Black Engineers);
- Recruiting visits to other colleges and universities;
- Emails through university name exchanges and GRE lists; and
- Campus visits for top Ph.D. candidates.
The DOE found no direct evidence of discrimination based on sex in the recruitment and outreach efforts, therefore DOE found that the university's efforts in that area complied with the nondiscrimination requirements of the Title IX statute and the DOE Title IX implementing regulations. However, OCR suggested that UF evaluate its process for inviting Ph.D. candidates to spring visits to ensure that both sexes are provided an equal opportunity to participate.
DOE Title IX implementing regulations prohibit recipients of financial assistance from discriminating on the basis of sex in the admission of applicants. 10 C.F.R. § 1042.300. ln determining whether a person satisfies a criterion for admission, or in making any offer of admission, recipients are prohibited from the following: giving preference to one person over another on the basis of sex; applying numerical limitations upon the number or proportion of persons of either sex who may be admitted; otherwise treating one individual differently from another on the basis of sex.
DOE found no direct evidence of discrimination based on sex in the university or the engineering department's graduate program admissions process or its admissions decisions in any of the areas reviewed and therefore found that UF was in compliance with the nondiscrimination provisions of the Title IX Statute and the DOE implementing regulations with respect to admissions.
Lessons Learned for UNF
While this audit was focused on engineering, it can be used to guide the entire university.
To prepare for potential future audits, each College at UNF should:
- Have a specific recruitment and outreach plan to focus on the increasing the demographics in its student body and faculty/staff positions that are underrepresented. Recruitment plans should not just focus on ethnic minorities, but should look at gender as well. Each College should also determine how to create outreach opportunities that will help it reach its recruitment goals.
- Keep a detailed record of its recruitment and outreach efforts each year and be able to provide this information in the event of an audit.
- Work with its Academic Advisors to ensure that students are not being led to any majors based on their sex.
- Avoid establishing any limits on the number of persons who may be admitted to any program of study based on any demographic category. This does not mean the departments may not have specific numeric goals, but these goals should not include any maximums or cut off numbers by demographic category.
If you need assistance with developing diverse recruitment, outreach or admissions plans, please reach out to EOI as there is an EOI employee assigned to each College. Find your EOI contact.