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. The strategic plan outlines goals in three focused areas: Culture & Climate, Recruitment & Retention, and Curriculum & Creative Programming.
The subcommittees of the FADC will be looking ahead to 2019 to visit the goals of our five-year strategic plan to update our goals and to ensure that we are aligned with the University Diversity Inclusion and Action Plan.
As of fall 2018, the committee can report progress in the following areas:
CULTURE & CLIMATE
- The College of Fine Arts partnered this past year with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond to offer a series of workshops on “Undoing Racism.” According to the People’s Institute, their workshops focus “on understanding what racism is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone.” The college piloted these two-day workshops last spring with college leadership and with faculty in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and in August two more workshops were held for faculty and staff in the Butler School of Music, School of Design and Creative Technologies and Texas Performing Arts. So far, about 180 faculty and staff in the College of Fine Arts have participated in the workshops, and the Fine Arts Diversity Committee is working to expand anti-racism training in the college.
- The FADC has launched a Guest Artist Initiative that provides supplementary funding for visiting artists and scholars who might expand our understanding as a college community of under-represented cultures and viewpoints.
- The FADC has expanded funding for its Guest Artist Initiative Program and is accepting proposals from students for projects that will support the inclusion and diversity goals of the college.
- 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 addition to the all-gender facility in Texas Performing Arts.
- 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 this 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.
- 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.
RECRUITMENT & RETENTION
- The Fine Arts Diversity Committee (FADC) will be directly involved in supporting the proactive identification of an inclusive pool of candidates in all future faculty searches. Each search committee will include a Diversity Advocate from the committee and an FADC Diversity Liaison to serve as a resource for the committee. The Diversity Advocate and FADC Diversity Liaison will be in conversation with the search committee chair and search committee throughout the early stages of the search to support proactive efforts to build inclusion and diversity in the candidate pool. As the search committee reaches consensus on a list of finalists, the FADC will report to Dean Dempster about the search committee’s efforts to expand the diversity of their applicant pool, which will inform Dean Dempster’s review of the finalist list.
- The FADC provided support for the new recruiting event “Fine Arts Fest” in which College of Fine Arts Admissions invited 400 prospective students and their families to visit campus. Admissions saw a 75 percent yield rate from the students who attended this recruiting event.
- FADC provided support to bring 20 high school juniors and seniors from the Rio Grande Valley to visit the Department of Art and Art History and to take a tour of Landmarks art on campus.
- 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.
- FADC provided support to allow College of Fine Arts representatives to attend the South Texas Theatre Auditions to give students in the Rio Grande Valley an opportunity to audition for performing arts programs around the state.
- All departments and programs are working toward explicit goals for improving diversity in student admissions and enrollment.
- The FADC requested and received curriculum reports from each unit in the College of Fine Arts. The objective of these reports was to assess how diversity is represented in the curriculum of every discipline and sub-discipline in the college. We want to make sure that diversity is integrated into all disciplines and not relegated to the fringes of our curriculum. The FADC is exploring ways to incentivize better curriculum practices and to build in accountability measures and assess success.
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.