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Texas State adopts new plan for diversity and inclusion

JC Kellam building
The administration at Texas State hired a new Chief Diversity Officer.
Photo by Josh Mends | Staff Photographer

Texas State has recently adopted a new diversity plan. The plan, known as the University Diversity and Inclusion Strategic plan, is the newest iteration of a diversity plan at Texas State since 2012.

The six-year plan was developed through the work of Gillda Garcia, chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator at Texas State, as well as two dozen university personnel of the Equity and Access Committee.

The 2017 plan has five goals. Strengthen the culture of respect and inclusion. Strengthening our efforts to better identify and overcome barriers to inclusion. Strengthen our ability to better understand and define our community. Strengthen our efforts to maintain a safe environment free from discrimination and sexual misconduct. Lastly, to strengthen the diversity of faculty and senior level administrators.

The recent election, the incidents on campus involving racist banners and the most recent threats have influenced the new diversity plan.

“Some of the discussions came out of the dialogue after the election, and then, of course, some incidents on campus recently,” Garcia said. “It just reminds us that we want to highlight the importance of respect and respectful communication and to keep the campus safe.”

The diversity plan has its origins in 2002 when President Denise Trauth arrived at Texas State. There have been two prior plans since then.

“In the early 2000s, in earlier strategic plans, Trauth set a goal (to become) a Hispanic Serving Institution, HSI, a school with 25 percent or more Hispanic student body,” Garcia said “So, the diversity plan that was in effect at the time was a reflection of what was happening on campus.”

As part of the plans since 2002, there has also been a move to create a more diverse faculty that ties to the now diverse student body, in regards to gender, ethnicity, age and even veteran status.

“The biggest change between the strategic plans is that this current plan acknowledges that the goal is more about inclusion, it’s more about a broad definition of diversity. It’s coming to terms with an understanding of the many multiple layers in segments of diversity on campus” Garcia said.

Among the things that helped shape the current plan, including the Equity and Access Committee, were town hall meetings held with President Trauth, Gene Bourgeois, provost, and Joanne Smith, vice president of Student Affairs,

When asked about her favorite part of the plan, Garcia said, the “respect.”

“I certainly totally support getting better at understanding who we are, especially adopting a more broad definition of diversity,” Garcia said. “Because even though race and gender are very important, they’re just not the only factors.”