College is a time when students can gain a panoramic perspective of the world. This happens in a robust, diverse environment that embraces a free exchange of ideas alongside thoughtful consideration of different cultures.
“It’s our goal at UT to integrate diversity and community engagement into our core teaching, research and service missions,” said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement.
Recently the university was recognized as a national leader for diversity. The University of Texas at Austin was one of 13 U.S. universities honored as a 2016 Diversity Champion by INSIGHT into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in the nation. The award goes to universities that exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs and at the highest administrative levels.
“We were humbled to learn that we were named a Diversity Champion,” said Vincent. “I believe this designation serves as further proof that our campus continues to be one that embraces and encourages service and volunteerism in all its forms.”
This is not the first time UT Austin has been recognize for its dedication to creating an inclusive campus environment. For five years in a row, UT has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The HEED Award is presented annually by INSIGHT Into Diversity to recognize colleges and universities that are dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.
The university has also been named to the 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. The honor is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to service learning, civic engagement and volunteerism.
Below are some highlighted programs that helped UT Austin land these honors:
The University of Texas School of Law’s Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program empowers students to address unmet legal needs in the community. Students get the opportunity to explore diverse areas of substantive law and develop practical lawyering skills. The program also introduces students to the legal profession’s tradition and ethical obligation of pro bono service, and helps students incorporate a commitment to service into their professional identities.
The Mithoff Program is part of the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and plays a central role in fulfilling the Justice Center’s mission to promote equal justice for all and to support public service in the legal profession.
Every year, students participate in a two-year academic service-learning initiative that culminates in The Project, the university’s largest day of service organized by the Longhorn Center for Community Engagement in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Last year, The Project returned to Rundberg, an underserved neighborhood in northeast Austin, for the third time to cultivate gardens, paint bridges, spruce up the schools and clean the streets. In one day alone, their efforts resulted in an economic impact of nearly $90,000.
The Accounting Practicum class (ACC366P/384) in the McCombs School of Business is a service-learning program that benefits students and residents of underserved communities. Students apply skills in their major areas and focus on additional project management skills through group projects conducted in a professional setting. Aspiring accountants gain work experience while helping Austin residents file taxes at various community tax centers from January until mid-April.
Every spring, the campus community can look forward to that one day of the year when the Forty Acres is abundant with beautiful white roses. Each of the 10,000 carefully de-thorned roses symbolizes one life that was lost in the Holocaust.
Organized by the Texas Hillel’s White Rose Society, the annual event is meant to spread awareness of genocide and commemorate those who suffered from the atrocities of World War II. Every year, the society focuses on a specific cause. Last spring, its members decided to bring the Syrian refugee crisis into the forefront. Tied to each rose was a pamphlet detailing the parallels between the crisis in Syria and the Holocaust.
These national awards, in addition to the 10-year Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification, demonstrate once again that The University of Texas at Austin is a national leader in diversity and community engagement.