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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Texas A&M "upholds its responsibility to accountability, campus climate, equity, and scholarship"

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Texas A&M discussed its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, as well as its budgetary spending on DEI hires, plans, and initiatives, in an interview with the Lone Star Standard. According to the school's Division of Finance and Administration, the DEI budget for Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022 was $22,835. In addition, the school's DEI salaries totaled $104,520 in FY 2022. "Operations" expenses increased from $831 to $4,157 from FY 2021 to FY 2022. In FY 2022, the school held a $1,765 "DEI Retreat", and from FY 2021 to FY 2022, civility expenses, "implicit bias training with UPD", and "summit registration" cost approximately $1,000. Overall, expenses increased from $2,188 in FY 2021 to $111,795 in FY 2022 with the hiring of a "VP for Inclusion" in March 2022.

Texas A&M University-Commerce is a part of the Texas A&M University System, which introduced a DEI-centric committee. Said committee released a report finding that Texas A&M universities were failing to hire a more diverse faculty from 2015-2019. The report blamed this on a "lack of accountability" and offered the ACES (Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship) Fellows Program, which is described as a “faculty pipeline initiative (that) promotes the research, teaching, and scholarship of early career scholars who embrace the belief that diversity is an indispensable component of academic excellence.”

“As an institution, Texas A&M has added a mandatory question to faculty and staff applications regarding ways they will work to value DEI for applicants," the report read. "A question for reference checks now addresses this question as well. These are small steps, but more is needed to help ensure that DEI is valued on the campus, particularly when it comes to hiring faculty and staff.”

"In recognition of Texas A&M University's Diversity Plan, the ACES Faculty Fellows Program promotes the research, teaching, and scholarship of early career scholars who embrace the belief that diversity is an indispensable component of academic excellence," the official Office For Diversity webpage reads. "From this experience at Texas A&M, fellows should develop an understanding of the value of diversity and inclusion and the power that it holds for students, faculty, and staff to enrich their lives."

"As a public, land-grant, Hispanic-serving (HSI) research university, Texas A&M upholds its responsibility to accountability, campus climate, equity, and scholarship by maintaining a campus that affirms equity and fosters inclusion and belonging," the page continues. ACES professors are expected to become tenure-track faculty.

According to a June 2021 memo sent to all Deans by Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity Annie McGown and Vice President for Faculty Affairs N.K. Anand, Texas A&M allocated $2 million in funds for the ACES program. “The presence of faculty of color is also integral to the University’s mission to provide the highest quality of undergraduate and graduate education and develop new understandings through research and creativity,” the memo read. It is currently unknown if the ACES program will be implemented in all Texas A&M campuses, including TAMUG.

According to the official Texas A&M-Commerce website, the school has a DEI Committee that “consists of a team of faculty, staff and students who work together to foster a positive campus culture where everyone feels safe, supported and welcome”. The committee also recommends “appropriate policies, practices, and initiatives to support and enhance equity, diversity, inclusion and access efforts at A&M-Commerce in order to foster an inclusive learning and work environment for all members of the A&M-Commerce community.”

The school hired its first-ever VP for Inclusion, Dr. Cephas Archie, in March 2022, with the office's duties including furthering the development of the DEI Strategic Plan. “Dr. Archie is poised to be a thought leader and trusted partner for the university,” said University President Mark J. Rudin. “I look forward to seeing how he expands the culture of inclusivity on our campus."

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