Sunday, September 22, 2019

UTSA Office of Inclusive Excellence supports campus affinity groups

UTSA Office of Inclusive Excellence supports campus affinity groups

(July 29, 2019) -- The Office of Inclusive Excellence, which advocates for equity, diversity and inclusivity at UTSA, is now serving as the administrative “home” to faculty and staff affinity groups—voluntary associations of those who have common interests.

“UTSA considers affinity groups to be an important component of the workplace environment at UTSA, connecting various members of the campus community with each other and with the university,” says Myron Anderson, Vice President of Inclusive Excellence. “The Office of Inclusive Excellence is reinforcing these groups by providing accessibility, organizational and structural support, along with resources.”

An important part of the mission of an affinity group is to enhance campus climate. Currently, there are eight faculty/staff affinity groups on campus:

  • Association of Chinese Professors
  • Black Faculty and Staff Association
  • Faculty Parents Network
  • First-Gen Faculty
  • International Faculty
  • La Raza and Administrators Association
  • LGBTQ Faculty and Staff Association
  • Women’s Professional Development and Synergy Academy (WPASA)

Anderson hopes that the administrative support and increased promotion of affinity groups provided through his office will increase faculty/staff engagement and encourage the formation of additional groups.  

“We are here to help support any employees who are looking to start a new affinity group. These groups play a vital role in promoting a sense of belonging and providing a community for our employees,” says Anderson. “Specifically, they provide insights into diverse areas, build bridges to the campus-wide community and empower members.”

Anderson notes that affinity groups have representatives on UTSA’s Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board, charged with proactively and systemically addressing strategic issues to develop and maintain a welcoming and inclusive campus at UTSA.  

Affinity group information is one of many features of UTSA’s new Inclusive Excellence website, in addition to a multitude of resources including diversity research, impact and evaluation, faculty mentoring and retention along with learning tools and diversity terminology. One of the interactive features of the website—called the Idea Catcher—allows users to share their thoughts on how to advance diversity and inclusion at UTSA.

Faculty and staff interested in learning more about UTSA’s affinity groups, or starting a new one, should contact the Office of Inclusive Excellence at 210-458-4451 or InclusiveExcellence@utsa.edu, or stop by Main Building (MB 2.102).

President Taylor Eighmy launched the Presidential Initiative on Inclusive Excellence in February as a key part of his strategic vision to promote an inclusive community of learners, to raise awareness and appreciation of multicultural perspectives, and to establish policies, practices, programs and resources designed to embrace and support diversity.

- Rachel Barchus-Perkes


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