Jens Palsberg

Honoring CEED’s Enrique Ainsworth: Three Decades Dedicated to Improving Diversity at UCLA Samueli

Jul 21, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom
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More than 200 UCLA Samueli School of Engineering students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered together virtually in June to celebrate Enrique Ainsworth, who is retiring after spending 31 years as the executive director of the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) at UCLA.

Known to his friends as Rick, Ainsworth has long been committed to furthering diversity in engineering. He has authored and served as principal or co-principal investigator for projects supporting STEM retention programs at all levels of education, including undergraduate, graduate, community college and pre-college. Ainsworth has also been an advisor for the UCLA chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) since 1989 and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) since 1990.

Catherine Douglas, CEED’s associate director, started the event, which was a surprise for Ainsworth, by welcoming him to the call. Jayathi Murthy, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of Engineering, then kicked off the party with a welcome message, and highlighted some of Ainsworth’s major accomplishments. In total,15 attendees spoke including CEED alumni and current and former faculty and staff.

“Over his 30 plus years at UCLA, Rick has dedicated himself to providing both professional and personal support to CEED students to ensure retention and graduation, and he’s given them the tools to succeed beyond UCLA,” Murthy said. “And for all these, Rick, we are eternally grateful. Please know that you will always be a big part of the UCLA Samueli family.”

Ainsworth has received many honors and award for his achievements throughout his career at UCLA, include the UCLA Faculty Senate Diversity Leadership Award, National GEM Consortium, NSF Corporate and Foundation Alliance Recognition Award, NSBE “Golden Torch” MEP Director of the Year Award, UCLA Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Award, and in 2018, the inaugural Ray Landis Award.

In honor of Ainsworth’s legacy, CEED has started a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $31,000 in 31 days

In honor of Ainsworth’s legacy, CEED has started a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $31,000 in 31 days — a number chosen to match his 31 years of dedication to CEED. Murthy announced the campaign, saying it was important to support the mission of CEED: establishing K-20 pathways which ensure equity while leading to successful completion of engineering and computing degrees.

“It is important, now, more than ever, that we continue the momentum to develop, recruit, retain, and graduate underrepresented engineering and computing students,” Murthy said.

Closing the program, Ainsworth thanked everyone that had joined the party. He also expressed his appreciation of the current CEED staff, who has done much of the work remotely in order to adapt to COVID-19.

Ainsworth said it has been “a challenging and joyful time at UCLA [but] It wasn’t just me alone. I think what I had was probably vision.

“I don’t really get stressed, whatever the challenge,” he added. “A lot of it is having a talented staff that believes in what my vision was and took it further.”

With Ainsworth’s retirement, Douglas will be serving as the interim director of CEED. She has been managing CEED’s K-12 outreach efforts through the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) and Summer Math and Science Honors (SMASH) programs. CEED will continue to serve UCLA Samueli students and the school’s efforts to improve diversity.

This story is contributed by Omar Said

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