NRAO Mission Statement Update Reflects and Strengthens Observatory’s Long-standing Commitment to DEI


NSF’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has announced major updates to its organizational mission statement that are reflective of the Observatory’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in astrophysics.

NRAO’s updated mission statement reads:

In partnership with the scientific community, we…

  • Provide world-leading telescopes, instrumentation, data and expertise;
  • Train the next generation of scientists and engineers;
  • Advance broader, equitable, inclusive participation in science and engineering; and
  • Promote astronomy to foster a more scientifically literate society.

The addition of language specific to NRAO’s DEI commitment is no surprise. The Observatory has employed a Diversity Officer since 2009 and established its Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) in 2015.

NRAO’s ODI Director Lyndele von Schill said of the update, “Working with our partners to develop and maintain programs that support and elevate this mission has been a key component of NRAO’s success in training the next generation of scientists and engineers. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been guiding principles at NRAO for more than a decade, and it is fitting that our mission statement now reflects and acknowledges our core commitment to the astrophysics community.”   

NRAO currently supports and manages multiple broadening participation programs that promote diversity and inclusion in astrophysics. These programs include the National Astronomy Consortium (NAC), the National and International Non-Traditional Exchange (NINE) program, Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) students in the United States and Chile, RADIAL, the PROVOCA STEM program for girls in Chile, and the Superknova e-learning platform. This year, NRAO will launch two new programs, Exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) project with the support of Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), and the Women in Engineering Program (WiEP) with the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation (HSF).

NRAO has always believed and more importantly has always embodied the belief, that astronomy is for everyone. The programs and partnerships we have built over the past five decades are a crucial part of who we are as an organization, and as members of the astrophysics community,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “This update ensures that our mission statement is reflective of who we are, what we believe, and where we are headed.”

“This updated mission statement expresses the working values of NRAO and strengthens their commitment to building an inclusive workforce,” said Debra Fischer, Division Director for Astronomical Sciences at the National Science Foundation. 

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Media contact:

Amy C. Oliver
Public Information & News Manager, NRAO

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