Logo: University of Southern California

Moore Diversity

January 21, 2005 —

James Moore II, chairman of the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, has received the 2005 WTS-LA (Women’s Transportation Seminar-Los Angeles Chapter) Diversity Leadership Award — the first ever presented by the Los Angeles chapter — for his extraordinary efforts to create new opportunities for women, minority and international students in the Viterbi School of Engineering and the transportation industry. 

Jim Moore

A highly respected professor and policy leader, Moore has been actively involved in the school’s efforts to promote diversity among its faculty and student body. In addition to being a department chair, he has played a key role in diversity issues as director of the Transportation Engineering Program at USC and co-director of the school’s Construction Management Program.

“Jim has championed some of the Viterbi School’s most important diversity initiatives in recent years,” said Dean C. L. Max Nikias.  “Without his deep commitment to the ideals and goals of a pluralistic, diverse faculty and student body, and his unwavering support for students, we would not have accomplished nearly as much as we have in the last three years. I am so happy to hear that he has been awarded the very first diversity award ever given out by the WTS-LA group.”

Moore is a WTS director-at-large, working to advance transportation infrastructure and its study among USC students and faculty.  At the same time, he has been at the helm of the Viterbi School’s Good Neighbors Campaign for the last two years and helped support USC’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) program.

“Helping to level the playing field in transportation for women and minorities is simply the right thing to do,” Moore said in a written nomination submitted by his nominators.  “The inequity shouldn’t exist in the first place. Given that it does, though, ignoring it makes you complicit.  So I do what I can.” 

He does that by introducing his students to WTS, which is a nonpartisan organization, “the only one that gives members access to the leadership of every major transportation agency and private employer in Southern California and across the country,” Moore said.  Currently, eight of Moore’s students are WTS-LA members. He brings diversity issues to the table at WTS board meetings, and he is known by his students as a professor who personally empowers his students to widen their career horizons. 

“That’s one of the reasons why I’m extremely proud of USC,” he explained in his nomination statement.  “USC has made great strides in recent years to provide access to women and underrepresented groups, especially when it concerns faculty. When I arrived at USC, there were only three women in a faculty of about 140. Without compromising its standards, the leadership of the school has been extremely active in changing that, in recruiting women and minority groups.  And I press the agenda of looking for deserving women and minority students every chance I get.”   

WiSE Program Has Impact 
Moore attributes much of USC’s progress to the WiSE program, which was established in 2000 with a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor.  WiSE is aimed specifically at increasing the representation of women in science and engineering, and supports students, postdoctoral associates and faculty across the board, from tenure-track and tenured faculty to research faculty. 

Before WiSE, only 5.1% of USC’s science and engineering faculty were women, according to university data — that’s five of a total of 300 science and engineering faculty.  In the last five years, 13 female faculty have been hired. 

“Although two women left, the total number of faculty is now 26 and that number continues to grow,” Moore said. “In less than five years, WiSE has almost doubled the number of female science and engineering faculty members at USC.”      

Moore has pressed for greater diversity in the transportation industry as well. As head of the faculty group that founded Metrans — the National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research — and a member of its executive committee, he helped create an organization that is “devoted to solving the transportation problems confronting major metropolitan areas using an integrated, multimodal approach that blends the disciplines of engineering, policy, planning, public administration, and business administration.”

Metrans’ current director and deputy director are both women, and women are well represented on the executive committee. 

He uses the organization to create opportunities for USC women and minority students interested in gaining exposure to transportation engineering problems and policy issues. His students have enjoyed some opportunities that they never dreamed of, such as working closely on projects with agencies like the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Caltrans. They’ve also been given the opportunity to speak personally with transportation leaders such as U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and newly appointed Caltrans Director Will Kempton. 

Moore will receive his award at the WTS-LA chapter dinner in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2005.  Gloria Dixon, WTS national diversity chairwoman and vice president of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, will make the presentation. In May 2005, Moore will be nominated for the WTS National Diversity Leadership Award.
--Diane Ainsworth