The Forty Acres has seen quite a few changes over the years—from statue removals to new degree offerings in ethnic studies to a landmark Supreme Court case. We rounded up a few moments from the past 10 years that have sparked important discussions about campus climate and altered the university’s cultural landscape.
A bronze statue of civil rights champion Barbara Jordan was unveiled in April, 2009 on the UT Austin campus, following a week of special events honoring the late congresswoman. The Barbara Jordan Statue Project, which included faculty, staff and alumni and students, was directed by Sherri Sanders, who served as deputy to the vice president for diversity and community engagement.
The University Of Texas System Board Of Regents voted unanimously to change the name of Simkins Hall, a dormitory named after a former law professor who was prominent in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1800s, to Creekside Residence Hall in June, 2010. The motion was informed by an advisory group led by Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and engagement.
In 2011, Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) launched the disABILITY Advocate Program, providing disability education and awareness in campus-wide training. Assistant Director Emily Shryock and her service dog Morey have been leading the program since its inception. Though Morey is no longer on the job, he will always be remembered for his loyalty and devotion to Emily and all the people he served in the SSD.
In 2011, the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) and the Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) were moved to the newly built Student Activity Center on the East Mall—a central hub of activity located in a high-traffic area on campus. The MEC (room 1.102) and GSC (room 2.112) both offer a wealth of resources for advocacy, education and outreach.
In August, 2015, the Confederate-era statues of Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson were removed from the Main Mall based on the recommendations of a task force headed by Dr. Vincent. After reviewing the report and hearing from many members of the university community, including alumni and the public, President Fenves decided to relocate the statues elsewhere on campus.
In June 2016 the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in college admissions in a 4-3 ruling on the University of Texas’ use of race as a factor in a program to increase diversity in the student body. In this photo, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, is giving a statement to the press during the Supreme Court’s second round of oral arguments in 2015.