Striving for a new state of being: Thoughts on UTSA's faculty/staff diversity survey
The results of last fall’s faculty/staff diversity and inclusion survey are now available, and I encourage you to take some time out of your busy day to give the report a read. The data have much to tell us about UTSA’s current climate for underrepresented groups on our campus.
As you may recall, the survey was administered last November and is a project of the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. Though it was originally intended for employees within Academic Affairs only, I asked the Council work with me to expand its scope to ensure all faculty and staff voices were heard.
The reason for administering the survey is quite simple: UTSA must strive to be exemplary in providing a campus climate where underserved and underrepresented students can thrive. We must prepare every one of our graduates to be world-ready and fully equipped to lead in a diverse society. The first step is understanding and owning where we are succeeding and where we have more work to do, and the survey results will help us to do just that.
The data point to the need for culture change in several areas. Perhaps the most striking are the indicators that many faculty/staff did not feel safe answering the demographic questions for fear of being identified. Clearly, these trust issues will need to be addressed through an explicit institutional commitment to transparency and accountability throughout our organization.
This spring the Council, in concert with the Student Government Association, will administer a similar survey to our students to understand their experiences regarding diversity and inclusion. Our students’ voices will be critical to giving us a fuller picture of our current campus climate.
I have a sense of urgency around institutional change, but I am also mindful that moving toward a new state of being when it comes to diversity and inclusion is a continual process. We need to balance action—the desire we all have to not see the results of these surveys “sit on a shelf”—with true progress that is organic and genuine.
The President’s Initiative on Diversity and Inclusion announced last month will be heavily informed by the results of both the faculty/staff and student surveys, as well as direct input from students via the Student Action Coalition, Student Government Association and other groups.
I am eminently thankful to the entire Council—and to their partners in Institutional Research—for their excellent work on the survey. I hope you will attend one of the forums they are planning to learn more about the results, ask questions and engage in thoughtful dialogue. This journey is one we must all take together.