University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

From the Office of Institutional Equity, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement

The University of Texas at Austin is committed to providing an educational and working environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors that is free from discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, inappropriate consensual relationships, and retaliation.  As part of this commitment, the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) has partnered with the Office of the Provost, University Compliance Services, and colleges and departments across campus, to establish a plan for reporting such concerns.

The initiative is designed to help ensure that the university is aware of any concerns of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or inappropriate consensual relationships that are raised against a university employee, faculty member, or visitor/affiliated worker, and to ensure that these concerns are addressed promptly.

The mission of OIE is to provide leadership and support on matters relating to equity, diversity, respect and inclusiveness for all members of the university community.  OIE has been authorized to investigate allegations falling under the university¹s policies.  As part of the initiative, OIE plans to meet with representatives from across campus to provide training to ensure that all units are aware of their responsibilities under federal and state law in responding to issues of harassment and discrimination.  In the coming months, this group of representatives will work with OIE, in collaboration with University Compliance Services and other interested units on campus, to develop a plan to rapidly respond to situations where there are urgent and/or highly sensitive concerns of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and inappropriate consensual relationships that need to be addressed as an institutional priority.

To learn more, please visit the OIE website:


By Kelli Bradley

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Meet and Greet: On Wednesday, September 24th, SSD hosted its 2nd annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Meet and Greet. Approximately 40 people were in attendance, including faculty, staff, and students.  This was held during what is traditionally Deaf Awareness Month and was the kick-off event for Disability Awareness Month (DAM) in October. The Meet and Greet was an opportunity for Deaf/HH and other individuals to meet and network with one another.  Introductions and brief presentations were given on the ASL Program in the Dept. of Linguistics, Longhorn College Bowl Team, and Signhorns.  Many attendees left the event with newfound knowledge about Deaf/HH and its community and met some new colleagues.  We look forward to hosting our 3rd annual next year!

Students On the Spectrum Group: After a successful first meeting of the fall, SSD’s Students On the Spectrum group will continue to meet monthly throughout the semester. Upcoming meetings will be held on October 21, November 18, and December 16, at 5:30pm in the SSD office. Students On the Spectrum is a support group for UT students with Asperger’s syndrome and other autism-spectrum disorders. Meetings are an opportunity for these students to gather and share experiences, challenges, and ideas.

Brown Bag Discussion, Disability and Accommodations at UT: On October 1, SSD held its first open brown bag session in the SAC. We are planning on scheduling these events more often with each brown bag focusing on disability-related issues.

White Cane Day: SSD participated in White Cane Day on October 15. The march started at the Texas State Capital to City Hall. A speech by the mayor was followed by a celebration at Republic Square Park.

disABILITY Advocate training : Open DAP trainings are held once per semester and allow individuals to be trained as disABILITY Advocates. On October 8, an open-to-all training was held, and on October 15, an open instructor training was held.   The School of Social Work faculty members will be trained on October 17, and on October 22, the Student Employee Excellence Program is scheduled for training. disABILITY Advocate trainings are typically provided at the request of UT groups, organizations and departments. Participants engage in learning and discussion and leave with ideas and action steps they can implement within their role at UT to make campus a more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

Breaking the Silence: On Tuesday, October 21st in the Texas Union Ballroom from 7-9 pm, SSD and Voices Against Violence will co-hosted Breaking the Silence. Survivors and allies were given the opportunity to speak out about experiences of relationship violence. This event featured keynote speaker Ammie Morgan, Ms. Wheelchair Alabama 2012 and a survivor of relationship violence. The event included performance, on- and off-campus resource fair, free refreshments, and an open mic speak-out.

For a complete listing of events, visit the SSD website:


By Dr. Sherri L. Sanders

In late June, the Fine Arts Diversity Committee delivered its Strategic Diversity Plan Proposal 2014-2019 to Dean Douglas J. Dempster. The plan reflects two years of the committee’s work to establish a comprehensive five-year plan that clearly conveys the college’s commitment to diversity and communicates the critical role that all individuals within the college play in creating a more inclusive culture. The committee utilized a multi-stage process developed by Campus Diversity and Strategic Initiatives staff within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

The three goals for the five-year diversity plan focus on recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, students, and staff; the academic curriculum and creative programming; and the college’s climate and culture. The foundation for each goal is supported through a goal rationale and outcome-oriented objectives. Implementation proposals and performance standard criteria also accompany each objective. The plan and its implementation served as a focal point of the annual College of Fine Arts Chairs and Directors retreat in late August.

Strategies are currently under development for launching the implementation of the year-one priorities identified in the diversity plan. Strategic Initiatives (SI) staff will be working closely with the FADC in order to ensure a successful launch of the plan’s implementation and an in-depth evaluation of the pilot planning process. The multi-stage process and the insight gained during the pilot will provide the foundation for SI’s diversity planning efforts with other academic colleges and schools and administrative units across campus. A diversity planning toolkit, currently under production, will serve as a blueprint to guide diversity and equity committees as they engage in a process to create a plan to advance their priorities to create a more inclusive culture within their organization.

The FADC and DDCE would like to express its appreciation to Dean Dempster for his support and insight throughout the diversity planning process. His leadership serves as a role model for others on our campus as he actively and intentionally demonstrates his expectation that the College of Fine Arts serves as “a leader at UT in achieving the heterogeneity that is so essential to what we are and do” and in carrying forward “a promise of inclusion that is conditioned only on evidence of talent, accomplishment, and determination.”



By Leslie Blair

The Social Justice Institute, based in the DDCE’s Community Engagement Center, recently announced six awards through the 2014 Activist Research Grant Initiative. Awards were made to the following graduate students:

Elissa Underwood, American Studies – Underwood’s project focuses on access to affordable and health foods and on advocating for healthy food options in prisons.

Lakota Pochedley, Curriculum and Instruction – Pochedley will investigate how Oklahoma Native American students collectively construct different understandings of tribal sovereignty and definitions of Native membership and citizenship in the space of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Cultural Mentorship Program.

Lorna Hermosura, Educational Administration – Hermosura’s project seeks to capture the voices of incarcerated youth for the purposes of information educational policies and practices that can prevent incarceration of youth from similar backgrounds.

Hallie Boas, Anthropology – Boas will collect ethnographic data on the Navajo (Dineh) Reservation to gain knowledge about the intricacies of daily life and struggle of the Black Mesa community. She is searching for insights about Dineh land-based cosmology and spirituality.

Dori Wall, Curriculum and Instruction – Wall’s study explores the process of a district-wide implementation of dual language in the Austin Independent School District by gathering perspectives from stakeholders at the district, school and community levels.

Blanca Caldas, Curriculum and Instruction – Caldas’ research explores how critical drama-based pedagogical methods in the formation of bilingual teachers can prepare for future bilingual teachers to respond to the need for advocacy inside and outside the classroom. She will examine issues of xenophobia, immigration, racism, classicism and linguicism through the oral narratives of seasoned bilingual teachers.


By Leslie Blair

The Journal of Negro Education (Winter 2014, Vol. 83 Issue 1, p. 61-76.) recently published “A Hole in the Soul of Austin: Black Faculty Community Engagement Experiences in a Creative Class City” by DDCE faculty fellow Dr. Rich Reddick, DDCE post-doctoral fellow Dr. Stella Smith and former DDCE graduate research assistants Dr. Beth Bukoski along with former DDCE Project MALES staff member Dr. Patrick Valdez and Dr. Miguel V. Wasielewski.

The article discusses how tenure and tenure-track Black faculty at The University of Texas at Austin—a predominantly White institution— make meaning of their community engagement living and working in the city of Austin, long considered a creative class city given its demographics and history. The researchers, who surveyed all Black tenured and tenure-track faculty at UT Austin, examined two questions:

  • How do tenured and tenure-track Black faculty at the university make meaning of community engagement experiences in the Austin community?
  • What positive and challenging factors do the faculty perceive as they interact in the community?

The researchers found that if faculty came to UT Austin from another predominately white institution, the transition to Austin was not as difficult as those who came from an historically black college or university or a more diverse institution or city. Some faculty appreciated the characteristics of Austin as a creative class town but realized that a lack of ethnic diversity in Austin made it a “less than welcoming place” for Black faculty. Others noted their professional experiences and experiences raising a family in Austin were generally positive yet found stark reminders of structural racism and segregation. And given Austin’s kid-friendly environment, those who were parents engaged in the Austin community much differently than those who were not parents. Those without families often felt ignored, and in fact, their experiences suggest the need of opportunities that “consider their status as newcomers without the traditional anchors of family and children.” Black faculty who identified as LGBTQ found Austin’s LGBTQ community to exclude those of color.

Overall, the findings detail a lack of social and cultural experiences for Black faculty that affected their quality of life. Those who found a spiritual community or church in Austin or those with family ties to the city expressed greater satisfaction. It was also found Austin’s reputation as a city with a thriving music, arts and night life scene neglects consideration of a lack of entertainment and social interaction options aimed at Black professionals, especially for those in their 30s and older.

The authors conclude, “The case of Austin represents a specific history and experience; other creative class cities must come to terms with their unique histories and present realities—this is the reality of race in America.”