Division of Diversity and Community Engagement
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Change Starts Here: You Belong Here

Change Starts Here: You Belong Here


College/Academic Readiness: College readiness can be defined operationally as the level of preparation a student needs to enroll and succeed—without remediation—in a credit-bearing general education course at a postsecondary institution that offers a baccalaureate degree or transfer to a baccalaureate program.1

Accessibility: Accessibility is giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability and experience. Accessibility encompasses the broader meanings of compliance and refers to how organizations make space for the characteristics that each person brings. The definition of accessibility is broadening beyond public accommodations and job opportunities. It is not just about the physical environment; it’s about access to and representation in content for all. We integrate those concerns into our understanding of the term. We include the legal definitions and provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act but aspire to move beyond compliance and to consider inclusive design. 2

Affinity Groups: A group of faculty, staff, graduate students or undergraduate students linked by a common identity, purpose, ideology or interest. Affinity Groups play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included and empowered.3,4

Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI): A college or university with an undergraduate enrollment that is at least 10% Asian American and Native American, Pacific Islander.5

Belonging: Sense of belonging generally refers to a feeling of connectedness, that one is important or matters to others within the community.6

Career Readiness:  Career readiness is a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare students for success in the workplace and lifelong career journeys.7

Colleges, Schools and Units (CSUs): A university acronym to describe colleges, schools and units within The University of Texas at Austin. 8

Diverse/Diversity: the practice of representing many communities and identities on campus, which include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, gender, ability status, race, physical attributes, sexual orientation, sexual identity, national origin, socio-economic background, educational background, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, intellectual and political beliefs, work experience and job classification.9

Equity: Equity refers to fair treatment, access, opportunities and outcomes for all people across structures, systems, processes and initiatives. Equity is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and overcome intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or systemic structures.10

Experiential Learning: Experiential learning opportunities offer students assignments and activities based on real-life situations or primary research that engages them in reflective problem-solving with multiple potential avenues of inquiry.11

First-Generation Students: First-generation students come from families where neither parent or guardian has a four-year degree or higher from a college or university. Many students whose parents have degrees from outside of the United States also identify as first-generation.12

Flagship University: A world-class university with a commitment to teaching top undergraduate students, to providing top-level professional education and to a mission of civic engagement, outreach and economic development. The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. This public research university was opened in 1883 in the state capital. 13,14

HispanicServing Institution (HSI): An accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic or Latinx full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment.15

Historically Excluded: Refers to any group of people that has been historically excluded from full rights, privileges and opportunities in a society, organization, community or university context.16

Historically Marginalized: Refers to groups excluded from mainstream social, economic, educational and/or cultural life. Examples of marginalized populations include but are not limited to groups excluded due to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, and/or immigration status. Marginalization occurs due to unequal power relationships between social groups.17

Historically Underrepresented: Refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the U.S. Census and other federal measuring tools, includes Black Americans, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American and Native American, Pacific Islander.18

Historically Underserved: Refers to populations who face barriers in accessing and using victim services, and includes populations underserved because of geographic location, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, underserved racial and ethnic populations. Groups that are underserved because of special needs (such as language barriers, disabilities, alienage status or age).19

Inclusion: Inclusion recognizes and embraces the need for all members of the university community to have a sense of ownership in the institution and a sense and place of belonging. Inclusion is feeling treated with dignity as an individual and feeling encouraged to fully participate and bring one’s authentic self to bear every day. According to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, “It requires sustained and intentional institutional commitment and action. Tolerance is passive and may be a starting point. Inclusion is active and reflects the continuing character of a campus”.2025

Institutional Reporting, Research and Information Systems (IRRIS): The central point of contact for official campus statistics and serves as a major repository for information on students, faculty, courses, semester credit hour production, degrees awarded and facilities utilization.21

Interdisciplinary: Involves drawing appropriately from several disciplines (or separate branches of learning or fields of expertise) to redefine problems outside of normal boundaries and reach solutions based on a new understanding of complex situations.22

Outreach: Involves generating, transmitting, applying and preserving knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences. Outreach endeavors enhance teaching, research, creative work and service while addressing larger societal issues. For students and staff, community engagement and service projects link campus teaching and learning to civic responsibility and community well-being.23

Recruitment (students, staff, faculty): The strategies and methods used to attract a prospective student or employee to select your higher education institution.

URGs (University Resource Groups): URGs provide an organized voice on campus for diverse communities within The University of Texas at Austin. The URGs not only provide a way to communicate the needs of these diverse groups to the campus community, but also celebrate the voices, identities, experiences and talents of the groups. The URGs also provide leadership training and other professional development, community service opportunities and celebrations such as an annual potluck for all faculty and staff.24


  1. Conley, D. T. (2011). Redefining College Readiness, Volume 5. Eugene, OR: Educational Policy Improvement Center
  2. American Alliance of Museums. (2022). Definitions of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from https://www.aam-us.org/programs/diversity-equity-accessibility-and-inclusion/facing-change-definitions/
  3. Monterey Bay, C. S. U. (2022). Employee Affinity Groups. Office of Inclusive Excellence and Sustainability. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://csumb.edu/diversity/employee-affinity-groups/
  4. Mississippi State University. (2020, August 7). Affinity groups. Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://www.oidi.msstate.edu/programs-services/affinity-groups
  5. US Department of Education. (2021, May 19). Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions Program. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/aanapi/index.html
  6. Strayhorn, T. (2019). College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success for All Students (2nd ed.). Routledge.
  7. Texas Career Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin. (2021, October 15). Career Readiness. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://careerengagement.utexas.edu/undergraduate-students/prepare/career-readiness/
  8. Office of the Registrar, The University of Texas at Austin. (2020, June 22). Glossary of Catalog Terminology. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://registrar.utexas.edu/catalogs/glossary
  9. Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin. (2022). Glossary. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://diversity.utexas.edu/actionplan/glossary/
  10. National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2022). Equity Definition. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.naceweb.org/about-us/equity-definition/
  11. Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, The University of Texas at Austin. (2020, December 23). Experiential Learning Initiative. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://provost.utexas.edu/initiatives/experiential-learning-initiative/
  12. The University of Texas at Austin. (2022). What Does It Mean to Be a First-Generation Student? Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://firstgeneration.utexas.edu/
  13. Usher, A. (2017, September 20). Flagship Universities Vs. World-Class Universities: Inside higher ed. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/world-view/flagship-universities-vs-world-class-universities#:~:text=What’s%20the%20difference%3F,engagement%2C%20outreach%20and%20economic%20development.
  14. The University of Texas at Austin. (n.d.). Overview. Overview | The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.utexas.edu/about/overview
  15. S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://sites.ed.gov/hispanic-initiative/hispanic-serving-institutions-hsis/
  16. Diversity Officer Magazine. (2013, January 31). Historically Excluded Group. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://diversityofficermagazine.com/cultural-competence/diversitypedia/heg/
  17. Baah, F. O., Teitelman, A. M., & Riegel, B. (2018). Marginalization: Conceptualizing Patient Vulnerabilities in the Framework of Social Determinants of Health-An Integrative Review. Nursing Inquiry, 26(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/nin.12268
  18. Emory University. (n.d.). Common Terms. Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://equityandinclusion.emory.edu/resources/self-guided-learning/common-terms.html#:~:text=Historically%20Underrepresented,%2FLatinos%2C%20and%20Native%20Americans.
  19. Green, D. (2006). Historically Underserved Students: What We Know, What We Still Need to Know. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2006(135), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1002/cc.244
  20. Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin. (2022). Glossary. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://diversity.utexas.edu/actionplan/glossary/
  21. Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS). (n.d.). Irris Home. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://reports.utexas.edu/
  22. Guo, Rongxing. (2021). Cross-Border Studies as an Interdisciplinary Science. 10.1016/B978-0-323-91870-1.00003-3.
  23. Michigan State University. (n.d.). About the Curriculum. Tools of Engagement – Collaborating with Community Partners. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://tools.engage.msu.edu/about/default.aspx
  24. Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin. (2022, January 20). University Resource Groups. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://diversity.utexas.edu/campus-culture/university-resource-groups
  25. Bain & Company. (2022, January 31). The Fabric of Belonging: How to Weave an Inclusive Culture. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from https://www.bain.com/insights/the-fabric-of-belonging-how-to-weave-an-inclusive-culture/
  26. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. (n.d.) Glossary of Terms. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from https://reportcenter.highered.texas.gov/reports/data/glossary-of-data-terms/