Committee makes diversity recommendations for iSchool

Ferguson, John  |  Apr 26, 2017

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Diversity Report

The School of Information’s diversity and inclusion committee has issued its first report.

Drawing on conversations among students, faculty and staff, as well as a community-wide survey, the report makes eight recommendations for the iSchool. They include:

  • Recruiting students from diverse backgrounds
  • Adjusting or augmenting course materials
  • Hosting school social events
  • Publicizing the committee’s actions and findings

Nearly 60 percent of iSchool community members participated in the anonymous climate survey conducted in March. Key findings include:

  • 97 percent of respondents believed that having meaningful interactions with people who are different from them is an important or very important part of their iSchool experience.
  • About one quarter of respondents thought that members of the iSchool community were treated inequitably based on various demographic traits, such as race, age, gender or life experiences, particularly based on English language proficiency.
  • Just over a quarter of respondents (28%) thought that diversity and inclusion were not adequately addressed in most iSchool courses.

In its report, the committee also makes several requests of UT Austin Provost Maurie McInnis. The requests include asking for funding for a diversity faculty hire, for faculty and staff training, and for a school staff position of a minority-liaison officer.

School of Information Dean and Professor Andrew Dillon formed the diversity and inclusion committee in 2016, answering a charge from McInnis as part of a broader effort to create a more inclusive campus culture. The University of Texas at Austin released its first university-wide diversity and inclusion action plan in late March.

Also earlier this spring, Dean Dillon sent a letter to iSchool stakeholders that announced a new initiative that includes news, events, research and resources to increase community dialogue about diversity and inclusion.

“The Texas iSchool is a vibrant, enriching, and exciting place to study and work together, and we intend to practice and celebrate what makes us special through this new initiative,” he said.

The iSchool’s diversity and inclusion committee members are Diane Bailey, committee chair and associate professor; Itza Carbajal, master’s student; Carol Carreon, graduate coordinator II; Kamar Nassor, finance manager; Crystal Paull, master’s student; and Lynn Westbrook, associate professor.

In the 2017-18 year, the members are planning to expand on their preliminary actions to include diversity workshops and panels, among other initiatives. More information about diversity & inclusion at the School of Information can be found at Diversity and Inclusion at the iSchool.

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