Sonia Garcia has been named the University of Georgia College of Engineering’s first assistant dean for undergraduate diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Garcia comes to UGA from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, where she served as senior director of the college’s Access and Inclusion Program since its inception in 2014. In her new position, Garcia will be responsible for advancing mentoring and support programs in the UGA College of Engineering, with an emphasis on programs that support underrepresented students. She began her new duties Jan. 18.
“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are essential to provide the highest quality of education and are also ethical obligations for American universities,” said Garcia. “I am extremely excited and quite honored to be the first person to occupy this role in UGA’s College of Engineering. I am looking forward to work closely with faculty, staff, and students, as a team, on advancing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion – as well as working with the larger UGA community.”
At Texas A&M, Garcia led strategic efforts centered on the recruitment and success of historically underrepresented minority students, first-generation students, and students from under-served communities in engineering. Her accomplishments include creating a transitional program for first-generation students, creating professional development courses to help undergraduate students sharpen soft skills, and developing a peer mentor program that connects undergraduates to upperclassmen.
In addition, Garcia created high-impact learning and research opportunities for students, secured a $500,000 endowment to support programming for underrepresented first-generation students, successfully partnering with industries to launch the college’s first Summer Bridge Engineering Program, and secured financial support from companies including Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips to establish scholarships for incoming first-year students.
“Throughout her career, Dr. Garcia has demonstrated a commitment to helping underrepresented students succeed,” said Donald Leo, dean of the UGA College of Engineering. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with her to ensure our college is a welcoming community and a place where all students can grow academically and individually.”
Garcia received numerous awards during her tenure at Texas A&M. These honors include the Accountability, Climate, and Equity Diversity Award (2019), the Dr. Roberts M. Gates Inspiration Award (2017), the Student Employment Impact Award (2017), the Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award in the College of Geosciences for her work to increase diversity in STEM disciplines (2012), the President’s Award for Academic Advising of Underrepresented Minority Students (2008), and an Outstanding Staff Award from the Mays Business School (2005).
Garcia earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education/Higher Education Administration from Michigan State University. She received a master’s degree in Human Development, Family Studies, and Related Services at the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Government from the University of Massachusetts Boston.