Dean Welsh related the status of diversity and inclusivity at the Bush School to students, faculty, and affiliates from College Station and locations across the globe.
The first-ever Bush School of Government and Public Service Diversity Town Hall was held Monday, September 6, in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. Dean Mark A. Welsh III discussed demographics at the Bush School and steps the Bush School has taken recently to address gaps in diversity and inclusion that exist in various dimensions of the College.
“The town hall was intended to be an honest look in the mirror,” said Dean Welsh. It examined “who we are, what we worked on last year, what mistakes we have made, how we are trying to improve, and what we need to focus on during the next steps of our journey.”
The PowerPoint for the town hall is available to download online.
In 2020, a former student suggested that the Bush School host a college-wide town hall on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The Bush School approved the idea for May 2021, but the event was rescheduled to allow incoming students to participate.
“We’re not going to stop the conversation. We can’t afford to. And things can’t stay the same. I don’t care if it’s just one person who feels frustrated. That’s unacceptable. Let’s make it better. That’s what public service is about. It’s about improving your community, your organization, your city, your state, your world,” said Dean Welsh.
At the town hall, Dean Welsh noted that the percentage of women among faculty and the student body has increased, while it has decreased among a staff that has historically been at least 70 percent women. Underrepresented minorities (URM), which include African-Americans, American-Indians/Alaska Natives, and Hispanics, have increased, although their numbers remain lower than at some peer colleges and fail to reflect Texas’ high school demographics.
The Bush School 2021 diversity report is awaiting publication, but you can find the 2020 diversity report online. According to Dean Welsh, the Bush School aims to reach 35 percent URM students across all Bush School programs and locations.
The Bush School also transformed the existing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Committee by adding eleven new positions to make it more representative and adding the “equity” element to the name. The separate Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee was also redefined as an independent committee under the Student Government Association giving it functional independence from other Bush School college and student organizations.
Other changes include the addition of mandatory DEI trainings for students, additional mandatory training for faculty and staff, and creation of a new internal incident reporting mechanism for behavior that doesn’t rise to the level of the University’s existing Stop Hate program. The Bush School also designated a temporary multicultural space in room 2089 of the Allen building.
Dean Welsh recapped topics discussed during Summer 2020 DEI Zoom sessions and expressed hope that attendance will increase in future sessions. The Student EDI Committee, led by co-chairs Alyssa Duany and Valeria Hinojosa, is working to determine the best format and topics for speaker events and workshops to be held throughout the fall and spring semesters. In addition, the Student EDI Committee distributes monthly newsletters highlighting diversity issues for Bush School students..
Finally, Dean Welsh outlined five focus areas for the academic year 2021-2022 in matters of diversity and inclusion.
- Be open to ideas and recommendations from Bush School faculty, students, and staff.
- Better incorporate the Bush School’s Washington, DC, campus.
- Solicit student input and involvement in the dialogue.
- Encourage both positive and negative reporting.
- Improve data collection.
Dean Welsh compared pursuing dialogue around diversity and fairness to the kind of public service taught at the Bush School. “The tools are the same. It starts with listening and understanding,” he said. “In my world, diversity is strength, equity builds trust, and inclusion is an imperative. And so that’s where we need to go.”
To learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusivity at the Bush School, visit the diversity page.