Build and support a culture of belonging
As a public institution that truly serves the state of Texas, we must cultivate a sense of belonging and community on our campus. While students, faculty and staff choose to come to this campus because they recognize the ways in which UT Austin allows them to unleash their full potential, we need to ensure that once they arrive, they see the campus as a place where they can live and work as their authentic selves. We build strength when we can bring individual experiences and ideas to a broad-minded, culturally diverse, engaged and respectful community. In order to do this, we recognize the need for us to be able to talk about our differences, but also to find those shared ways and spaces where we belong on campus. We need to facilitate reflective dialogue on campus. And we also need to build practices that help us make intentional introspection about equity and inclusion a part of the everyday experience of every member of our campus.
We also support a university-wide effort to define our culture: what are the ideas and experiences that we share when we come to this campus? This means celebrating diverse cultures, backgrounds and identities of our campus community through highlighting our stories. It also means that we need to actively acknowledge that the history of UT Austin is made up of many stories, experiences and viewpoints. Some of those stories inspire us; some of those stories make us uncomfortable. Our Main Building tells us, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We believe these are more than just words.
How we will accomplish our objectives:
4.1 Expand existing mentorship networks and ensure they are publicized and accessible to all undergraduate and graduate students
We will help our students to thrive professionally both within and beyond college, and we will ensure that students on campus can find welcoming communities of scholars and graduate with access to the robust Texas Exes network of alumni.
- Connect students to mentorship networks from various areas of colleges, schools and units and expand the networks that are in high demand
- Work with our Texas Exes chapters to connect students to alumni for mentorship
- Work with our graduate students to create new and innovative mentorship networks outside of their programs
4.2 Expand and promote diversity and inclusion learning opportunities for staff and faculty
Many members of our campus community want to engage in conversations around race, identity and equity, but they are unsure of how to begin those conversations. We recognize the need for our community members to be able to engage in these conversations openly and honestly.
- Promote and develop resources for our community on how to have difficult conversations and amplify opportunities to model these conversations
- Ensure that trainings and resources are available for department chairs and unit leaders as well as faculty and staff search committees, and create search committee trainings led by Diversity Officers in alignment with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost’s Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan
- Expand trainings to faculty and staff who support communities of diverse backgrounds and experiences
4.3 Recognize and create robust and equitable mentorship networks for staff and faculty
All faculty and staff need access to mentors who can help them achieve their highest impact on campus.
- Develop a Small Group Mentorship Program to support development and research and teaching mentorship for early career faculty and faculty members who want to expand their understanding, and use of, inclusive teaching and research practices
- Develop cross-disciplinary faculty mentorship opportunities, as recommended by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost’s Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan
- Develop and invest in a mentorship program to support staff who need mentorship in personal and professional development, career growth and community outreach
4.4 Celebrate and provide education on the diverse cultures, backgrounds and identities on our campus
The size of our student body and the scope of diversity on our campus give us an opportunity to tell stories that celebrate the uniqueness of our community. Our students, faculty and staff should see themselves and their identities recognized on campus.
- Ensure that university publications, outreach materials and social media communications make an effort to be inclusive of different identities, communities, disabilities, etc.
- Celebrate and honor different identities throughout the year and through social media, partnering with URGs, student organizations and units across our campus
- Promote our HSI and AANAPISI status to increase demographic representation and retention of faculty, staff and students
4.5 Actively acknowledge that the history of UT Austin is made up of many stories, experiences and viewpoints
UT Austin is the flagship university for the state of Texas and a world-class institution of higher learning. It is also a place with historical ties to figures from the Confederacy and segregation. While we recognize that none of us, from individuals to institutions, are defined by that past, we also believe that we need to acknowledge that UT Austin’s history is bound up in the complexities of American history, one that has produced segregationists and civil rights activists alike. We should acknowledge that these histories have impacts on the experiences of our students, faculty and staff. These initiatives will help us build a campus community that reflects on our history to look to a better future.
- Honor and contextualize the history of all historically excluded communities at UT Austin and strengthen the university’s diversity webpages
- Support, promote and publicize faculty and staff research and projects that focus on UT Austin’s complex history