The College of Fine Arts is committed to fostering a culture and climate that is inclusive and welcoming of students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints.
“Being a diverse learning and research community is essential to the creativity and contest of ideas that are central to any arts college,” said Dean Doug Dempster. “The College of Fine Arts should be a leader at UT in supporting and fostering an inclusive culture that is so central to who we are and what we do.”
The Fine Arts Diversity Committee is a partnership between the college and UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement to create and implement a comprehensive diversity strategic plan. Formed as a taskforce in 2012, the committee is made up of representatives from faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students from the College of Fine Arts, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Theatre and Dance, Butler School of Music and Texas Performing Arts, as well as staff from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Office for Inclusion and Equity.
After a two-year planning and research process, the committee shared its strategic plan in 2014, and the college is actively working to implement the goals of the five-year plan, which covers 2014–2019.
As of spring 2017, the committee can report progress in the following areas:
- The FADC has provided partial support for campus visits and events in diversity recruitment initiatives with Dallas' Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and Edinburg High School in Edinburg, Texas.
- The FADC has also provided partial support to bring the Department of Theatre and Dance show Luna to the Rio Grande Valley as part of a diversity recruitment effort. The college has been increasing its budget for recruitment efforts to the Rio Grande Valley and under-represented school in various Texas urban areas to help build diversity in the student applicant pool.
- The college has surveyed the availability of all-gender restrooms in our facilities and has added an additional all-gender facility in the Doty Fine Arts Building and in the music building (MRH).
- In fall 2016, the FADC organized a diversity retreat for College of Fine Arts chairs, directors and leadership that was facilitated by Patrick Sims, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- All faculty search committees now have one faculty member designated as a diversity advocate charged with ensuring a search surfaces a diverse pool of applicants.
- The college has partnered with the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement to offer workshops to all COFA TAs on “Inclusive Classrooms.” The college hopes to expand opportunity to interested faculty in the future.
- Through collaboration with COFA Staff Council, 20 COFA staff and faculty members participated in the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) disABILITY ADVOCATE training.
- All departments and programs are working toward explicit goals for improving diversity in student admissions and enrollment.
- The committee has launched a Guest Artist Initiative that will provide supplementary funding for visiting artists and scholars who might expand our understanding as a college community of under-represented cultures and viewpoints.
- All departments have established internal working groups, intersecting with the Fine Arts Diversity Committee, to review and establish guidelines and principles for diversity and inclusion within core academic curriculum and creative programming.