DEI Training Task Force
On October 5, 2020, I sent an email to faculty and staff about President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping which bars certain topics from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) workforce training for entities, like Texas State University, that receive federal funding. The Order is complicated, and we are working with The Texas State University System (TSUS) Office of the General Counsel to fully understand the Order’s impact on our institution. However, I would like to offer a few more details at this time.
First and foremost, I want to be very clear: Texas State will continue to be steadfast in our commitment to build an equitable and inclusive community for our students, faculty, and staff. The Order applies only to workforce training. Therefore, it will not affect university-wide diversity messaging. It also does not apply to academic instruction, academic curriculum, or faculty research. We remain intently focused on preserving academic freedom.
Like many of you, I am concerned about the implications the Order may have for our university. There are serious penalties for non-compliance with this Order. We do not want to jeopardize federal funding that supports our university community. This fall, our students received $260 million in federal financial aid, which does not include the TRIO programs, research grants, or other federal contracts. The loss of the funding would be devastating to thousands of our students.
As I announced in my October 5, 2020, email, we temporarily paused DEI training, workshops, or programs for faculty, staff, and student employees while we develop an evaluation process across the university, assess risk, and provide guidance to our community. I have asked Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence for Faculty and Staff Initiatives, Dr. Stella Silva, to lead a Workplace Training Review Subcommittee from the Council on Inclusive Excellence to develop a formal process to review workforce training programs and identify any changes needed to achieve alignment with the Order. The members of this training review subcommittee are:
- Dr. Stella Silva, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence for Faculty and Staff Initiatives
- Dr. Scott Bowman, Special Assistant to the Provost for Inclusion and Diversity, Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology
- Dr. Mary Brennan, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts
- Ms. LynnAnn Brewer, Director of Talent Acquisition, Inclusion, and Retention
- Dr. Candice Hastings, Director of Faculty Development
Our goal is to implement this formal review process quickly. In the meantime, if you have planned to conduct a workforce training program between now and October 31, 2020, please contact Dr. Silva to review training materials and ensure alignment with the Order so that you can continue to host the training.
Additionally, on October 7, 2020, I appointed a DEI Training Task Force to: 1) inventory current DEI training at Texas State for faculty, staff, and student employees; 2) explore and determine if DEI training should be mandatory for all faculty, staff, and student employees; 3) if the recommendation is to require this training, determine what form(s) it should take; 4) engage in benchmarking with peer institutions that have implemented similar training; and 5) submit recommendations to the Council for Inclusive Excellence for review and feedback, and then to my Cabinet and me for final review and approval. The work of the Task Force, chaired by Dr. Benjamin Martin, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will not be impeded as we determine how the Order impacts Texas State. Instead, it will play a critical role in our response by inventorying training programs and benchmarking with other universities. Attached is my letter of Appointment of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training Task Force and the membership roster of this Task Force.
I want to state unequivocally that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain core values at Texas State. We will keep you updated on what we learn and how Texas State will continue to move forward in creating a welcoming and inclusive culture for all members of our community.
Denise M. Trauth