Tapia to speak at Purdue's inaugural Presidential Diversity Lecture

March 19, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Richard A. Tapia, a recent National Medal of Science recipient, will be the keynote speaker on March 28 at Purdue University's inaugural Presidential Diversity Lecture Series.

Tapia's talk, which is free and open to the public, will be at 3:30 p.m. in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

Purdue President France A. Córdova, who announced the series on Thursday (March 15), will introduce Tapia. His lecture is titled "Crisis in Academia. Need for a New Leadership."

"The Presidential Diversity Lecture Series will feature scholars, artists, thought leaders and professionals who exemplify excellence through diversity," Córdova said. "The lectures will focus on ideas and viewpoints designed to increase community engagement, discussion and learning on diversity and inclusion."

The lecture will be presented annually.

Tapia is the Maxfield-Oshman Professor of Engineering and director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice University. The son of parents who emigrated from Mexico when they were children, he was the first in his family to attend college.

In addition to the National Medal of Science in 2011, Tapia received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 1996. In the same year, he earned the Hispanic Engineer of the Year Award from Hispanic Engineer Magazine. Cornell University established a lecture series to honor Tapia and African-American mathematician David Blackwell in 2001, and in the same year, the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference was created. The conference is organized by the Coalition to Diversify Computing and is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery.

Hispanic Engineer and Informational Technology Magazine selected Tapia as one of the 50 most important Hispanics in technology and business for 2004. In 2008 he was listed as one of the nation's 100 most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine, and the National Research Council has named him one of the 20 most influential leaders in minority math education. Under his direction or co-direction, 35 mathematics students have received, or are working on, doctoral degrees. Of these, 15 have been women and eight have been underrepresented minorities.

Tapia also will give a math lecture on March 27 in Armstrong Hall, Room 1010, as part of the Math and Science Lecture Series. The lecture is open to any faculty member, Purdue students and high school students interested in mathematics and its use in several professions.
Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu

Sources: France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                 G. Christine Taylor, vice provost for diversity and chief diversity officer, 765-494-5928, taylorgc@purdue.edu