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Texas A&M releases first progress report on work recommended by DEI Commission

Junkins says the communications outreach and engagement committee has made the most progress so...
Junkins says the communications outreach and engagement committee has made the most progress so far. He says it was able to make an immediate impact on enrolling students for next fall.(KBTX)
Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 3:33 AM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Texas A&M University released an update on a report recommended by its Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The commission was created to improve campus climate and culture for students and staff of all backgrounds. To achieve those goals, a mixture of six committees and task forces were formed to focus on different aspects of the university experience.

“In four months, we have moved the conceptual mountain to establish a template moving forward, and we’ve got a lot of early momentum, but this is a four-year project,” Texas A&M Interim President John L. Junkins said. “The impact of this has already been significant, but it’s just beginning.”

The six teams that were created include communications outreach and engagement, student scholarship and recruitment, pathways-to-doctorate fellowships, faculty and staff recruitment and recognition, campus experience, and campus historical displays.

Junkins says the communications outreach and engagement committee has made the most progress so far. He says it was able to make an immediate impact on enrolling students for next fall.

“We used our students and our African American students who are currently enrolled, as well as others who have graduated already and leading good lives,” Junkins said. “Having the students telling their story in their voice and what they loved about the university and how it impacted their life, that’s very powerful.”

Some students who have been critical of the school’s diversity and inclusion efforts say improving the campus experience for minority groups must be a priority in order to bring about significant change. Junkins says that the committee has made strides as well.

“We haven’t launched this process yet, but we will this summer and fall, even starting with freshman orientation, we’re going to try and work those through our student organizations,” Junkins said. “We want to make sure they are being warm and welcoming to our underrepresented groups. This is very, very important. We’re casting it, as I think we very well should, primarily in the language of our core values.”

Junkins says the Task Force on Campus Historical Displays outlined three new plazas that will be designed to completely and accurately tell the university’s story.

“The concept of a historical plaza is just really, really exciting because, historically, only having one statue in that centrally located plaza, it really doesn’t capture who we are as a university,” Junkins said. “Essentially, the conversation is about where have we come from, where are we now, and where we’re going.”

Junkins says this is just the early part of a quest the school is on, and even after the four-year project is completed, the results of this work will continue to evolve.

To read the full progress report, click here.

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