A Message from President Denise M. Trauth
September 20, 2021 | Sent to Faculty, Staff, and Students
Dear Texas State University Community,
Please join me in celebrating our 10-year anniversary of Texas State University receiving our designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. I want to give a special thank you to all on our campuses who have worked hard to thoughtfully plan events to commemorate this very special year.
This designation is a source of great pride for Texas State. It equips us to serve our Hispanic students and our entire university community in ways that transform our institution as a whole and transform the lives of our students. Being an HSI is much more than a label – it reflects the Texas State story in a way that no other national ranking, accolade, or classification can capture.
As we celebrate this incredible milestone, it is also the perfect time to reaffirm our deep commitment to building a culture of inclusion at Texas State. The inspiration behind our commitment and related actions stems from the desire to build a community where all who step onto our campuses feel valued, appreciated, and that they belong in all spaces of the university. We are driven by our mission to create opportunities for all to thrive and pursue their dreams at Texas State and beyond.
Today, I want to update you on some of the most recent actions we have taken to strengthen diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) at Texas State.
Associate Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence/Chief Diversity Officer Search
Last year, I informed the university community of an organizational change which brought Student Diversity and Inclusion in the Division of Students Affairs, Talent Acquisition in Human Resources, and the Office of Equity and Inclusion together to form Institutional Inclusive Excellence. At that time, I approved the creation of an Associate Vice President for Institutional Inclusive Excellence/Chief Diversity Officer position. However, since we were in a hiring freeze, it was filled on an interim basis. I am happy to announce that a national search to permanently fill this position will commence immediately.
Naming Celebrations of Trailblazers from the Black and Hispanic/Latinx Communities
This fall, we will celebrate:
- October 11, 2021 -- the Round Rock Campus -- the naming of two unnamed roads -- Adolfo Barrera Drive, after Dr. Adolfo “Sonny” Barrera, a former university administrator who played an integral role in the development of multicultural programming at Texas State; and Elvin Holt Drive, after Dr. Elvin Holt, the first Black professor in the Department of English, for his work in multicultural curriculum development.
- November 12, 2021 -- the San Marcos Campus -- renaming of San Gabriel Hall to Elena Zamora O’Shea Hall, after Elena Zamora O’Shea, who was the first known Latina student at Texas State in 1906; and the renaming of Angelina Hall to First Five Freedom Hall, after Dana Jean Smith, Helen Jackson Franks, Georgia Hoodye Cheatham, Gloria Odoms Powell, and Mabeleen Washington Wozniak, who were the first Black students at Texas State in 1963.
Building Equitable Relationships Across the University
In partnership with the organization Life Anew, throughout last spring, over 100 students, staff, and faculty, including myself and all Cabinet members, engaged first in individual, then in integrated, dialogue sessions. These conversations focused on racial injustice and restorative justice with the goal of producing a report that reflected the interests, concerns, and voices of our Texas State community.
I was deeply involved in this process as were members of my Cabinet. We recognized that it was especially important for us to listen to student voices from across the university. So, we engaged students representing a variety of organizations including Black President’s Council, Black Student Alliance, Committee on Racial Equality, Graduate Students, Hip Hop Congress, NAACP, Underrepresented Student Advisory Council, Student Government, and Student Organizations Council.
The resulting Life Anew report provides a framework to create a long-term strategic plan for building and maintaining equitable relationships across the university. Beginning October 1, 2021, the next phase of this inclusive planning process will start with the Council for Inclusive Excellence (CIE), which is comprised of 22 diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) leaders, administrators, faculty, staff, and students. They will use the report to identify themes, recommend actions, and establish priorities to draft a strategic plan by the end of fall 2021. During this process, CIE will seek feedback from the cohorts involved in the Life Anew process. The cohorts will have the opportunity to review the themes and recommended action steps, ensuring their voices are heard and that they remain a part of this transformative development process.
The President’s Cabinet will review the draft of the strategic plan and work with the CIE to finalize for implementation beginning spring 2022.
To share progress with the Texas State community, the plan will be kept on a dedicated webpage on the Texas State Chief Diversity website that will be available to all faculty, staff, and students. Texas State’s dedication to this extensive process and commitment to ensuring that student, staff, and faculty concerns are addressed reinforces the university’s active commitment to DEIA goals.
Establishment of the HSI Community Council
Earlier in the year, I established the Texas State Seal of Excelencia Work Group to pursue application for the 2021 Seal of Excelencia, a certification awarded by Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit that promotes the success of Latino students in post-secondary education. This certification is reserved for trendsetting institutions whose framework demonstrates a commitment to serving Latino students. Our Work Group recommended the establishment of a permanent HSI advisory group to help raise and promote the importance of Texas State’s on-going commitment to Latino Student success.
I’m proud to announce we have established a permanent council of stellar faculty, staff, and students, charged with building on the outstanding progress of the Seal of Excelencia Work Group. Our new HSI Community Council will serve as Texas State’s advisory board for HSI initiatives and have a multi-faceted and long-term role. The Council will continue to develop programs and events that intentionally support our Hispanic students, faculty, and staff and gather institutional data that support Latino student success. The Council will also work to increase the visibility of HSI initiatives and showcase the benefits of our HSI designation.
I hope you join me in continuing our work and dedication to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Together, we are making Texas State a great place for all.
Denise M. Trauth