UT Austin’s “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Strategic Plan”

David Acevedo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.

CounterCurrent: Week of 7/26

For decades, American colleges and universities have sought greater racial and gender diversity in their students, faculty, and administrative staff. This quest has escalated dramatically in recent years both in scope and urgency with higher ed leadership adding more categories to the list of desired diversity metrics and with schools implementing increasingly aggressive tactics for achieving “proper” equity and inclusivity. At the same time, it has caused a steady decline in the value of individual merit and a dearth of intellectual diversity on our campuses.

The University of Texas at Austin plans to outdo its peers in the pursuit of diversity, as per an unpublished plan sent to administrators and faculty earlier this month by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. The National Association of Scholars obtained the draft proposal, titled the “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Strategic Plan” from an employee at UT.

The proposal, which I’ll refer to as the Plan, is based on a 2017 UT Austin “blueprint plan” called the “Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan” (UDIAP). The Plan fits within the broader framework of the UDIAP and was written to address the alleged lack of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” within UT Austin’s professoriate. In the university’s own words:

An excellent and diverse faculty benefits our educational and instructional experiences and strengthens our research, scholarship, and creativity. … UT Austin endeavors to create an inclusive environment of teaching, research, and service in which all can learn from one another, productively interact, and share in the benefits of learning and working at a diverse university. [emphasis added]

UT Austin specifically seeks faculty members that represent a diversity of “races, ethnicities, peoples, nationalities, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, socio- economic statuses, disabilities, and health histories.” Notably absent from the university’s initiative is diversity of ideology or worldview.

The Plan proposes four objectives for achieving faculty “diversity, equity, and inclusion”:

  • Objective 1: Attract, Recruit, and Employ a Diverse Faculty
  • Objective 2: Retain, Develop, and Promote a Diverse Faculty
  • Objective 3: Establish an Equitable and Inclusive Climate
  • Objective 4: Support Innovative and Diverse Scholarship, Teaching, and Service

The Plan’s objectives devote the entirety of UT Austin’s faculty ecosystem—recruiting, hiring, promotion, student instruction, and scholarship—to the dubious end of identity-based diversity. Its assumptions, methods, and goals are thoroughly ideological in nature and reflect core progressive dogma to a T.

In this week’s featured article, I examine the Plan’s four objectives in detail, highlighting key proposals and providing my own takeaways. I conclude that:

The Plan is profoundly prejudiced and ought to be met with fierce opposition from University of Texas’ administrators, faculty, and students, not to mention the Texas taxpayers who would underwrite the university’s newly formed search committees, diversity officers, and training programs. UT Austin has no claim on anyone’s wallet if it refuses to uphold basic principles of liberal education—academic freedom, intellectual diversity, and merit-based success.

If implemented, the “Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Strategic Plan” will directly threaten the very foundation of teaching and learning at UT Austin. It will also set a dangerous precedent for other schools to follow suit—after all, higher ed leaders are in a woke arms race to both save their aggrieved souls and attract the most woke students in all the land. Who’s to say more institutions won’t line up to be on “the right side of history”?

The National Association of Scholars condemns this insidious, unjust “strategic plan” and calls on UT Austin Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Daniel Jaffe and Interim President Jay Hartzell to retract it immediately.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Larry D. Moore, Public Domain

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