UT Austin announces plans to create a more diverse and welcoming campus
AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin has revealed a series of actions it plans to take to promote diversity, inclusion, equity, and to more fully support Black students on campus.
Officials say the plan came about after a widespread discussion with students, alumni, and community members and it will focus on two broad areas.
The first broad area outlined in the plan is to do more to recruit, attract, retain, and support a diverse group of students, staff, and faculty. Another broad area mentioned in the plan is to reconsider how to best reflect the university's values both in symbols and names on campus and in the way in which UT Austin tells its history.
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As part of the efforts, UT says it will do the following:
- Allocate a multimillion-dollar investment from Texas Athletics’ revenue to programs — on or off-campus — that work to recruit, attract, retain, and support Black students.
- Expand UT’s presence and outreach in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and elsewhere to better recruit outstanding high school students from underrepresented groups.
- Adopt a universitywide plan to recruit, develop and retain world-class faculty members who bring more diversity.
- Refocus and sharpen the implementation of the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, released in 2017.
- Expand the UT Austin Police Oversight Committee to include more community members and explore creative approaches to on-campus safety and wellness issues.
- Rename the Robert L. Moore Building as the Physics, Math and Astronomy Building.
- Honor Heman M. Sweatt, UT’s first Black student, in additional ways: Creating the Heman M. Sweatt Entrance to T.S. Painter Hall on 24th Street. Placing a statue of Sweatt near the entrance.
- Creating the Heman M. Sweatt Entrance to T.S. Painter Hall on 24th Street.
- Placing a statue of Sweatt near the entrance.
- Reimagining, redesigning and rededicating a major space in the building as an exhibit and gathering space where we will tell the story of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Sweatt v. Painter, recognize Sweatt’s courage and leadership in changing the world through the 1950 case that he won, and place Painter Hall within the context of the university’s resistance to integration under T.S. Painter’s presidency.
- Build new spaces and monuments for deserving, heroic Longhorns
- Honor the Precursors, the first Black undergraduates to attend UT Austin, with a new monument on the East Mall, as part of a larger space dedicated to pioneering students and faculty members.
- Erect a statue for Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. At the suggestion of the Jamail family, rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
- Educate visitors to the campus about the history and context of many of the names that will remain, such as the Littlefield Fountain, the statue of Gov. Jim Hogg, the Belo Center and the pedestals on which a series of statues stood until 2017.
- Own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of “The Eyes of Texas” as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community. “The Eyes of Texas,” in its current form, will continue to be UT’s alma mater, but the university will work to reclaim and redefine what this song stands for, first by owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent, and then by partnering with the campus community to reimagine its future as a song that unites all Longhorns.
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“During the past month, I have listened to scores of students. I went into these conversations understanding that UT has worked hard to become a more diverse and welcoming place. I came out of them realizing there is still more work to do — and this starts and ends by creating an environment in which students are fully supported before, during and after their time at UT,” Interim UT President Jay Hartzell said in a letter to campus.