Mason Lighting the Way
Spotlights from the Task Force
More than 130 faculty, staff and students are working on George Mason University’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force, which is taking a hard look at the current state of diversity and inclusivity efforts at the university and making recommendations for the future.
These individuals come from across our campuses and bring their different skill sets and expertise to this work. In this series, we will spotlight members of the task force and find out what drives them.
Christopher A. Carr
Chief Diversity Officer, College of Engineering and Computing
Committee: Co-chair, Training and Development Committee
In January, Christopher A. Carr was recognized with the 2020 Rising Star in Diversity Award from the Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD). This award recognizes an individual in their profession for less than 10 years who has actively worked to enhance diversity and inclusion by mentoring, supporting and/or advocating for the success of historically underserved individuals.
This tells you a lot about Carr and the work he has been doing. Since he joined George Mason University in 2019 as one of the first school-based diversity officers, he has developed a strategic plan for the college and championed a number of new policies for recruiting, retaining, and advancing diverse faculty. It was no surprise when the leaders of Mason’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force asked him to co-chair the Training and Development Committee.
Carr said his interest in diversity and inclusion in higher education comes from his experiences growing up in Missouri. Although his father is an engineer, and his mother works in radiology, he said it never crossed his mind to go into engineering himself. But he found he was passionate about access.
“I was exceptionally privileged,” Carr said of his childhood. “I had access to resources and opportunities that others didn’t, but often I was the only one who looked like me in those rooms.”
Ultimately Carr found those situations isolating, which propelled him to make a difference.
“There is no point in having a spot at the table if we don’t get to talk,” he said. “I wanted to advocate for people who look like me.”
And that’s what he’s done. Before joining Mason, Carr was a senior staff member at the National Society of Black Engineers, where he played a key role in obtaining access to scholarships and creating outreach programming for thousands of Black college and K-12 students.
Even before the task force was established, Carr was working on trainings to help people recognize and deal with unconscious bias and microaggression. A campus-wide version of this training was also one of the recommendations coming out the Training and Development Committee.
Carr said working on the task force “has been an adventure.”
“Where we are [as a university] is not where we want to be,” said Carr, emphasizing that it is going to take some work and cooperation to make change happen. And he is OK with that.
“I’m in it for the long game,” he said. “This work will plant the seeds for a garden that someone else will walk in.”