Bruce Lindvall Honored for Diversity Work

He will receive the ASEE’s DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award

Over the past ten years, the enrollment of underrepresented minority PhD students at Northwestern Engineering has grown exponentially. While enrollment across all graduate programs has grown, underrepresented minority PhD enrollment has increased by 140 percent.

What happened ten years ago to spark change? Bruce Lindvall joined the University. 

Now Lindvall’s steadfast efforts are being nationally recognized. On June 27, he will receive the 2016 DuPont Minorities in Engineering Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) during its 123rd annual conference. The award honors Lindvall’s commitment to increasing student diversity in science, engineering, and technology.

Bruce Lindvall“I’m deeply honored and humbled to receive this award because so many people do good work in this area,” said Lindvall, assistant dean for graduate studies at Northwestern Engineering. “I’ve been passionate about this work for 30 years.”

This is the second diversity award for Lindvall this year. In March, he received the Penny Warren Honorary Service Award from Northwestern’s Black Graduate Student Association for his efforts to increase diversity and improve academic life for students of color. Lindvall was also named University GEM Representative of the Year in 2011.

Since joining Northwestern in 2006, Lindvall has been a tireless advocate for advancing diversity in education. In a critical first step at improving diversity, Lindvall personally emails 400 to 600 GEM fellowship applicants each year. These fellowships are granted to exceptional underrepresented minorities pursuing master’s degrees and PhDs in science and engineering. But Lindvall is not just interested in improving admissions metrics, he’s interested in improving the students’ lives and careers. He diligently stays in contact with each student through the application process and after matriculation, tracking their grades and developing plans with faculty to ensure student success. His recruited students view him as a strong supporter and reliable resource even long after graduation.  

“From the beginning of the application process, Bruce deliberately made himself available for questions through email, phone, and later in person when I visited the school,” said a student who nominated Lindvall for the award. “I recall being in contact with him up until the deadline on New Year’s Eve, hours before I submitted my application. He is the only person I know who will respond to an email within seconds…Even when faced with a broken leg last year, sitting in a hospital bed, he still answered students’ questions.”

Lindvall’s eyes were first opened to the importance of diversity in the classroom when he was a PhD student at Purdue University. He recalls enrolling in five classes taught by African American instructors.

“They were so good and so inspiring,” Lindvall said. “I experienced new perspectives, and that made me realize the value of diversity. A diverse population is helpful for everybody.”

Lindvall’s efforts to diversify go beyond recruiting emails and building relationship. He serves on the executive committee of the National GEM Consortium, a network of universities and institutions that enables students from underrepresented communities to pursue graduate education in applied science and engineering. 

Lindvall has also hosted the GEM GRAD (Getting Ready for Advanced Degrees) Labs, which are day-long seminars of interactive presentations and panels instructing students how to competitively apply for graduate school and outlining the long-term benefits of obtaining a master’s degree or PhD. And for the past eight years, he has served on the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) panels, which aim to encourage female and underrepresented minority students to enter STEM graduate programs. 

“Bruce’s desire to enhance representation of students of color within Northwestern Engineering — and on a broader scale in higher education in general — gives meaningful purpose to his work,” a student nominator said. “It drives him.”