Committee makes diversity recommendations for iSchool

Ferguson, John  |  Apr 26, 2017

News Image: 
Diversity Report
Diane Bailey
Lynn Westbrook

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.

UX student Tim Salau to intern with Google

Ferguson, John  |  May 04, 2017

News Image: 
an image of tim salau, ux google intern and school of information student
Tim Salau
Lynn Westbrook

A Texas iSchool student is heading to Google world headquarters this summer.

Tim Salau was chosen for the User Experience Design Internship at Google’s offices in Mountain View, Calif., where he will conduct user-experience research with the company’s Google search team.

“I'm embarking on a childhood dream that I didn't expect to happen so soon,” said Tim, who is in his first year of the School of Information Master’s of Science in Information Science program.

Tim said he became interested in UX design while completing his undergraduate studies in psychology.

“The responsibilities and creative power that UX designers have are compelling and high-impact. That’s why I’m a UX designer,” he said. “My position demands that I make sound and thoughtful decisions when devising or optimizing new and existing experiences. Right now, my focus traverses two parallels, the physical and digital, and soon a merging of both. I believe the product is the medium, but the people are the reason.”

The ambiguous relationship between products and people makes designing for people a challenging endeavor where people don't consistently express their possible needs and wants from a product, he added.

“Delayering what those desires are is difficult, but also the most significant aspect of my profession,” Tim said. “I am excited to own that challenge at Google this upcoming summer.”

Associate Professor Lynn Westbrook congratulated Tim for receiving the summer internship.

"Tim’s rich understanding of the socio-cultural framework within which information technology develops gives him a nuanced perspective on information technology growth," Dr. Westbrook said. "His integrated social and technological approaches will enrich his Google internship."

When Tim returns to the iSchool this fall, he said one of his top priorities is to decide on a Capstone project that addresses a social need and can be implemented immediately. He also wants to serve as a mentor for other people.

“Mentorship has drastically fast-tracked my learning curve and growth rate,” Tim said. “I want to pay the experience forward for people who are not receiving the same proper leadership or influence. Good mentorship is currently affecting how I approach my personal life and professional career. For example, the advice and shared resources of the iSchool's Career Development team were crucial to the success of my internship search, and we have a faculty of professors who never hesitate on sharing their wisdom. I take advantage of all the resources and great minds that we have at the iSchool, and I want to be a reliable and similar resource for others." 

You can find more of Tim's thoughts on design and mentorship on his Twitter and LinkedIn.

glqxz9283 sfy39587stf02 mnesdcuix8