The University of Texas at Austin has released its first university-wide diversity and inclusion plan. It will serve as a blueprint for creating a more inclusive campus culture and includes strategies that will impact all schools, colleges and administrative units on campus.
The goals of the plan include strengthening minority undergraduate and graduate student recruitment efforts and expanding professional development for faculty members to support inclusive classroom environments.
“The purpose of this plan is to establish clear guidelines for how the university can provide an exemplary experience for students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds,” UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said in an email to campus announcing the new plan. “It is a blueprint that sets goals and outlines steps for the future. The action plan calls on the effort of every member of our community to bring these guidelines and practices to life at UT.”
The plan was developed during the past six months by Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement; Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost; and Soncia Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs. They sought input from stakeholders across the university, including Student Government representatives. The plan also includes goals for assessment and accountability.
Key action items include the following:
- Ensuring diverse representation on hiring committees
- Developing and implementing comprehensive campus climate assessments that are individualized for faculty members, staff members and students
- Investing in new student housing so more students can live on campus and more students can have a common first-year experience on campus
- Establishing more accessible paths of travel on campus
- Continuing community outreach initiatives including those that create pathways from pre-academic readiness efforts to higher education
- Expanding multicultural philanthropy and alumni engagement
- Continuing to enhance the university’s relationships with historically underutilized businesses (HUBs)
“Just as the university has a master campus plan for its physical spaces, we wanted to develop a comprehensive plan to guide the institution as it supports a more diverse and inclusive campus culture,” Vincent said. “Many colleges, schools and departments have long had diversity and inclusion initiatives. This plan strengthens these efforts and helps make certain we are all doing our part to build a strong inclusive culture where all members of the community are respected and the educational experience for our students is enhanced by diverse people, scholarship and ideas.”
Vincent emphasized that the diversity and inclusion plan is a living document, to be adapted to changing needs of the university through time. A number of the action items included in the plan are strategies that have been in place and will continue. Others focus on new initiatives and strategies that will be implemented over time.
Members of the UT Austin community may provide online feedback about the plan through May 15.