WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Levon T. Esters, professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, has accepted a new position with Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute. Esters will be the technology-focused college’s inaugural associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion and faculty affairs. He also will hold a courtesy faculty appointment in the Polytechnic’s Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation.
Esters is a nationally recognized scholar on mentoring, equity and diversity in the STEM-based agricultural and life sciences disciplines. At Purdue’s College of Agriculture, Esters held the director role for the Mentoring @ Purdue program, which is designed to increase the representation of students from marginalized and minoritized backgrounds receiving advanced post-secondary STEM-based agricultural and life sciences degrees. In addition to addressing issues of educational equity and access, Esters’ research focuses on STEM career development of students attending historically Black land-grant colleges and universities, as well as educational and professional mobility and development of Black graduate students and faculty.
“I look at this as an opportunity to take what I’ve learned over the years related to diversity, equity, inclusion and faculty success and contribute to similar programming efforts in another college,” said Esters. “I’ve heard a lot of good things that the Polytechnic has done – the growth of the college over the years – and I have some understanding of the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the college. I would rank the Polytechnic as one of the top colleges at Purdue in terms of the commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. For me, that is impressive and I want to be a part of this moment.”
The search for the associate dean position was a college-wide effort. In addition to human resources, the 10-person search committee included Polytechnic faculty and staff from the Office of Recruitment, Retention, and Diversity; the Office of Globalization; the School of Construction Management Technology; the Department of Computer Graphics Technology; the School of Engineering Technology; and the Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation.
“Over the past decade, the Polytechnic Institute has continuously improved our curricula and learning experiences,” said Carrie Berger, Purdue Polytechnic Institute interim dean, associate dean for Strategic Initiatives, and clinical professor. “This transformation deepened our commitment to making the Polytechnic a great place to work and learn. The next step in affirming this commitment was the addition of an associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We sought an energetic and engaging leader to help take our current efforts to the next level, and Professor Esters fits that role perfectly.”
Esters’ presence will also contribute to the Polytechnic’s student retention efforts.
“I intend to help elevate the presence and value of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Polytechnic Institute, but my ultimate goal is much greater. I want these important initiatives to be practiced by everyone,” he said. “Creating a consistent culture in which everyone who walks through the doors of the Polytechnic feels a sense of welcome and belonging is extremely important and is something that I will work to accomplish, but it will take the support of everyone in the college.”
About Purdue Polytechnic
The Purdue Polytechnic Institute, one of 10 academic colleges at Purdue University, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in aviation, computing, construction management, engineering technology, technology leadership, and technology education. In addition to Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue Polytechnic offers select degree programs in nine Indiana communities.
Writer: Melissa Templeton, firstname.lastname@example.org