An Introduction: Thematic faculty initiative at the University of Texas at Austin
The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement seeks to transform learning, teaching, research and service in an effort to support an inclusive and diverse environment at The University of Texas at Austin. Key to our work is the Thematic Faculty Initiative that incorporates a three-tiered approach to prepare, recruit and retain faculty.
First, to support diverse students as they advance through graduate school and prepare for future academic careers, DDCE hires graduate research assistants who are mentored within the division’s many units and exposed to the value of working in an academic environment committed to diversity and inclusion. Second, in collaboration with colleges and schools across campus, DDCE recruits intellectually and culturally diverse faculty members, providing a line of funding for these hires. And third, DDCE provides fellowships to faculty members across the university whose research, teaching or special projects focus on diversity and community engagement issues.
The success of the division’s Thematic Faculty Initiative is clear. The DDCE has helped cultivate the professional careers of nearly 50 outstanding graduate students and the thematic faculty hires have been garnering professional awards and receiving tenure and promotion at an impressive rate. The excellence of faculty recruited through the initiative also contributed to the establishment of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, which is the only PhD-granting department of its kind in the Southwest. The faculty fellow program actively extends the boundaries of the university to diverse communities across the state, helping the university revolutionize its mission of service.
A Letter From The Vice-President of Diversity and Community Engagement
The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) continues to shape campus culture at The University of Texas at Austin, bridge academic and local communities, and advance the university’s research goals. We achieve this in many ways, but one cornerstone of our work is our Thematic Faculty Initiative.
The Thematic Faculty Initiative not only brings intellectually and culturally diverse faculty to campus; it provides support to faculty members who are conducting inspired research serving underprivileged people and communities. The initiative also offers support for a diverse array of graduate students in the way of assistantships, providing crucial professional experience and scholarly opportunities for students working toward advanced degrees.
Ranging from social justice issues to service-learning and spanning fields as diverse as natural sciences to fine arts, the work of our faculty continues to set the pace for research on national and global scales. At the same time, our faculty members connect diverse, underserved communities around the state with the university’s intellectual resoures. The Thematic Faculty Initiative is a key part of the DDCE’s vision of joining diverse people and diverse ideas under the umbrella of one university, ensuring UT Austin remains one of the top research universities in the world.
Dr. Gregory J. Vincent
Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
W. K. Kellogg Professor in Community College Leadership
Professor of Law