Diversity & Climate Initiatives

Texas A&M College of Agriculture & Life Science’s

Excellence through Diversity Statement

Within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, our work, learning, and scholarly environments are based on understanding and respecting different perspectives and capturing the values they bring to a discussion, situation, or a solution. Having respect for another’s perspective is not just professional, it adds dimension and allows us to grow from it. It also can add to the applicability of the solution or help avoid an unforeseen pitfall. Fostering the presence of a diverse environment assures these multiple perspectives will be present to enrich our thinking and impact. Understanding and respecting different ways of thinking, communicating, and learning will help us succeed in educating the broadest array of students and other stakeholders. Most complex problems and challenges will require solutions that draw from many viewpoints including those based on culture, subject matter, institutional hierarchical level, geographic location, ethnicity, gender, etc. Fostering a climate of respect and appreciation for differing perspectives will be a key part of our quest for excellence.

As evidenced by the statement above, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is committed to maintaining a supportive and welcoming environment for all of its faculty, staff, students, and visitors. The College takes the stance that if we focus on improving the climate, the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups will be a natural outcome. We have already seen marked improvement regarding recruitment, retention, and advancement of diverse faculty. Additionally, the College has increased enrollment in under-represented populations, especially Hispanics and African Americans.

Some of our areas of focus are highlighted below; click to expand the following initiatives to learn more:

Assure a supportive College climate for faculty, staff, and students

A college climate council has been created and is charged with elevating visibility of climate matters, identifying issues and opportunities for improvement, and providing advice on climate topics. The College is a sponsor of the Campus Climate Matters Conference, and is hosting a series of workshops in spring of 2016 to develop department-level diversity plans.

Results: By studying current climate data, the council has begun to identify areas where improvement is needed within the college. A recurring theme is lack of communication. The council will continue to advance climate topics, and is developing a communication plan to share climate and diversity topics and progress.

Recruitment and success of diverse students

To target recruitment of underrepresented populations, specifically black undergraduate students, the college:

    • moved recruiting efforts to more urban areas
    • redesigned marketing materials with urban populations in mind
    • created new student learning communities and support groups

Results: Undergraduate admissions of black students increased 10 fold from 2013-2014 and 60% from 2014 to 2015. To sustain this trend, the college will continue targeted recruiting and close mentoring.

Increase the pool of diverse faculty from within our graduate programs

Few underrepresented minority PhDs are being granted across the country, meaning there is a small pool of potential new hires to fulfill the need for diverse faculty. College leadership is making a concentrated effort to grow potential faculty from within our own graduate programs via:

  • New learning communities
  • Graduate student assessment programs
  • College Excellence/Diversity Fellowships
  • NSF Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate (AGEP) grant
  • Sloan Program in Exemplary Mentoring

Results: Black and Hispanic graduate student population in the college increased from 6% in 2004 to 14% in 2015.

Recruit and support diverse faculty

To recruit a more diverse faculty, the college has implemented:

  • Search committees meet with the dean to justify candidate pool diversity before interviews begin
  • Faculty development mentoring workshops
  • Encouraging female faculty to participate in ADVANCE Center programs

Results: Our overall minority faculty increased from 15% in 2009 to 22% in 2015. The college is committed to sustaining this progress and improving climate through program assessment.

Support professional development of diverse faculty

The percentage of unsuccessful mid-term and full-term tenure cases from female and minority candidates was notably high. To improve minority faculty success, the college implemented the following:

    • Faculty development workshops
    • One-on-one mentoring
    • All promotion and tenure committee members are required to complete ADVANCE Center training and implicit bias training

Results: For the 2015-2016 promotion and tenure cycle, no unsuccessful tenure cases have been submitted. The college is broadening mentoring efforts to ensure progress to full professor at similar success rates.