University colleges hire additional administrators to address diversity, inclusion

Neelam Bohra

Most colleges across campus have established an administrator for diversity. This semester, these officials have started meeting and discussing ways to increase diversity on campus. 

The administrative positions include associate deans, assistant deans and advisers for diversity, inclusion and equity in all but four colleges on campus. They work to recruit more diverse faculty and create a more welcoming environment for all students through workshops and trainings, said Edmund Gordon, vice provost for diversity. He said all administrators for diversity met for the first time in early November, and his office will continue to host monthly meetings.

“Faculty hiring, retention and climate within (colleges) is dictated by deans,” Gordon said. “We really need this person who can act as a liaison between the committee and the dean, who can help the dean create a vision for diversity in their (colleges).” 

Raji Srinivasan, associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the McCombs School of Business, said she was hired in 2018 as one of the first associate deans for diversity at the University. She said she seeks student opinions while also working to help hire diverse faculty. 

“(Diverse faculty) is good for students, faculty and the community to have,” Srinivasan said. “It is so students of color will see someone who looks like them, and it’s easier to work when you see someone who is a role model for you.” 

 



Richard Reddick, associate dean for equity, community engagement and outreach for the College of Education, took the position during the summer. He said it is important to have these diversity-related administrators as well as the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and similar efforts in the provost’s office, because it shows the University prioritizes diversity. 

“These organizations and positions have different areas of focus,” Reddick said. “The overlap does exist, but it’s helpful and good and shows we prioritize this issue by not just having one group doing it or one person doing it.” 

Christine Julien, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Cockrell School of Engineering, said the college created her position this September , and she already has seen a positive impact on students. 

“Now, they know of my existence and can reach out to me for various things,” Julien said. “We meet with different offices and student organizations, and it’s good for the students to know there’s an official person to talk to for diversity-related issues.” 

He said the four colleges that have not hired diversity-related administrators — the School of Architecture, the College of Fine Arts, the School of Nursing and the School of Information — have not had the resources to fill this position. He said these colleges have positions that addresses diversity, but they only focus on student affairs and are not involved in faculty affairs.

“We’re just now consolidating this model, and two years isn’t a long time,” Gordon said.

Cesar Ivan, Latin American studies graduate student, said he hopes these administrators can accurately represent the diversity of the student body.

“It’s important to have people focused on diversity, but if they do not have a background or do not embody diversity, they won’t help,” Ivan said. “They have to be really sensitive to the topics, or they’re just there. But I hope they can create more diversity.”