As a part of the data gathering process in the diversity planning partnership between the College of Fine Arts and Campus Diversity and Strategic Initiatives (CDSI), the results of the Fine Arts Diversity Committee (FADC) climate assessment conducted in spring 2012 are now available online, in an executive summary and a full report. The survey, completed by 702 students, faculty and staff (26% of the college overall), asked about perceptions of diversity, climate, intergroup relations and discrimination within COFA and UT-Austin.
Overall, survey respondents indicated that the college promotes a welcoming and inclusive environment and that diversity is integrated to varying degrees in the curricular, performative, scholarly and social aspects of the college. Still, those taking the survey indicated a greater need for sensitivity and inclusion of diversity in the COFA experience and there was less satisfaction with particular aspects of the environment noted by those identifying with underrepresented groups within the college.
Some examples of the assessment’s findings include:
- 86% of survey respondents agreed that skills related to diversity are needed for the professional success of COFA graduates.
- Two-thirds of survey takers felt comfortable discussing diversity in the classroom or workplace.
- 60% of respondents said that the curriculum prepares students for careers that recognize the needs of diverse populations. People of color and those who identified as low-income, lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer were more likely than their peers to disagree.
- 61% of survey respondents felt that diversity is adequately reflected in COFA’s productions, performances, exhibitions and events.
- People of color, women and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer were more likely than their counterparts to say they had experienced or witnessed discrimination on campus.
- Respondents indicated that students, faculty and staff interacted most positively across three types of diversity — sexual orientation, national origin and disability — and slightly less positively across differences of socioeconomic status, religion, race/ethnicity and gender.
During the spring semester and beyond, the Fine Arts Diversity Committee will use the data collected in the climate assessment, along with data from other college and university surveys and upcoming focus groups and stakeholder interviews in the college, to set goals and objectives for COFA’s inaugural Diversity Plan.
The next step in the diversity planning process includes FADC holding focus groups in the college with faculty, staff, and students from February 18-28. The committee is interested in creating a space for open dialogue where participants can share their perspectives and insight on diversity and equity in the college.
In fall 2012, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement completed an update on progress toward implementing the inaugural strategic plan. The 2012-2013 progress report provides highlights of accomplishments from the first implementation year (2011-2012) and priorities for the second year (2012-2013). It is also available in the sidebar on the right of this page.
The Division also released an overview of the full strategic plan, which is now posted on The Plan page. A special thank you to Senior Graphic Designer for DDCE, Ron Bowdoin, and Digital Media Manager, Jason Molin, who make the strategic plan come to life on the page and on screen!
Led by founder and director Dr. Rick Cherwitz, professor of Communication, the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre-Graduate School Internships within DDCE connect undergraduate students with faculty and veteran graduate students in their field of study to explore unique aspects of graduate study that make it distinct from the undergraduate experience.
Several researchers analyzed and published the impact of the innovative internships in peer-reviewed journals over the past year, including:
Hartelius, E.J. (2012). Revisiting Vico’s pedagogy of invention: The Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 98(2), 153-177.
Hartelius is an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University and a former UT Austin Pre-Graduate Internship director. In her article, she captures IE’s unique approach to learning and pedagogy – one grounded in problem-solving and engagement.
Reddick, R.J., Griffin, K.A., Cherwitz, R.A., Cerda-Prazak, A.A., & Bunch, N. (2012). What you get when you give: How graduate students benefit from serving as mentors. Journal of Faculty Development, 26(1), 37-48.
In this research article, the authors utilized a social exchange framework to analyze the qualitative narratives of 81 graduate student mentors participating in the IE Pre-Graduate Internship. Findings suggest that in addition to personal benefits, mentorship has four major professional benefits: a deeper perspective both on themselves and their academic discipline; the development of advising and mentoring skills; contributing to the diversity of their academic and professional field by assisting an emerging scholar from an underrepresented population; and knowledge that mentoring can assist both mentees and mentors in reaching their goals.
Expanding knowledge and sharing best practices are at the heart of the DDCE research strategic goal. Both of the scholarly articles above demonstrate the groundbreaking ways in which IE positively impacts students, faculty, and the university!
By Dr. Kiersten Ferguson and Dr. Victor B. Sáenz
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently awarded Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) a $50,000 grant, which will provide support for the Project MALES Student Fellows Mentoring Program and will expand the number of fellows and extend mentoring to a second high school in the Austin Independent School District. In partnership with the X-Y Zone program of Communities in Schools, the mentoring program seeks to create a critical mass of young, engaged, and civic-minded Latino male students to positively affect their academic success and college readiness through mentoring bonds across multiple generations.
Led by Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, DDCE faculty fellow and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration, Project MALES is made up of two interrelated initiatives: a research project focused on exploring the complex experiences of Latino males in higher education; and, a pilot mentoring project that aims to cultivate an engaged support network for Latino males at UT-Austin and the Central Texas community.
For more information about Project MALES, please contact Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, at firstname.lastname@example.org