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Improving evaluation and assessment, data availability, data-informed decision-making and organizational accountability.

In particular, we are working to:

  • advance priorities in institutional research and data analytics that support DEI assessments, audits and surveys (e.g., climate surveys, salary equity audits, service equity audits, DEI effort reports, etc.). 
  • update and reinforce equity-focused teaching policies and practices, like peer assessment teaching forms.
  • redefine systems of providing service credit and value for outreach and establish new processes and resources for better valuing DEI contributions.

Examples of Progress

  • Newly established unit, CNS Institutional Research and Analytics, extends data capacity beyond the college's Undergraduate Education unit and bolsters data-informed decision making in the college at large.
  • New and expanded equity-focused efforts around teaching evaluation and professional development, such as the Texas Mindset Initiative and other teaching-related offerings for faculty have launched, including mid-career surveys, peer observations and expert evaluations.
  • New, comprehensive college climate surveys will be launched in Spring 2023 alongside established processes for sharing results and linking findings to college priorities. Climate surveys will include staff, faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.
  • Built upon the successful DEI Graduate Student Fellowship, a new DEI Faculty Fellowship will launch in Spring 2023. Fellowships help support and compensate contributions to DEI work made by thoughtful CNS community members, diversify the perspectives and lived experiences contributing to leadership conversations and decisions, and provide valuable opportunities for faculty and students to gain insights into higher education administration.
  • Established a centralized data ticketing system as a one-stop shop for all faculty and staff data requests.
  • Expanded exit interviews to better identify DEI-related contributors to challenges in employee retention.
  • Expanded staff and faculty onboarding to include the signaling of college values and provide newcomers with an understanding of the students we serve.

Priorities for the future:

  • Work closely with the university-wide Data to Insights initiative to ensure useful data dashboards are accessible and used by CNS faculty and staff to support data-informed decision-making and prioritization.
  • Develop next steps regarding results of climate surveys, identifying areas for change in practice/priorities.
  • Expand institutional research initiatives aimed at measuring effectiveness and prioritizing areas of need.
  • Introduce strategies for advancing DEI through faculty annual reviews/staff performance evaluations.
  • Use a DEI lens in analysis of outreach efforts in the college.
  • Improve constancy, clarity and connections to practice with contributions-to-diversity statements.
  • Audit current faculty committee commitments for more equitable expectations of service.

We aim to improve the climate in ways that all community members feel safe, supported, included and seen at multiple levels.

In particular, we are working to:

  • acknowledge the inequitable history in our disciplines and on our campus, including through modules in our curriculum and clear statements of our diversity, equity and inclusion values and displays on campus that provide more context about historic injustices at UT and beyond.

  • embark on new efforts to highlight the perspectives, stories and voices of community members from historically marginalized groups, including in college communication, events and regular meetings with college leaders.

  • expand engagement with institutions and groups outside of UT that serve communities of color, so that we are intentional partners with groups the college has rarely or never reached.

  • develop college-wide teaching and mentoring resources, including new courses and curriculum modules; relevant seminar series and evidence-based trainings; and new mentoring and career development programs.


  • Established a Summer 2022 Working Group focused on improving mentoring of graduate students. Key recommendations from this group are actively being implemented, including:
    • Creating a compilation of resources for mentoring best practices (Mentoring Expectation; Mentee Toolkit, Year 1 IDP, Conflict Resolution Guide);
    • Piloting a "faculty friend" program for postdocs to create connections to faculty outside of their labs;
    • Launching a CNS Excellence in Mentoring of Graduate Students award; and
    • Expanding mental health services for graduate students through both new CNS non-academic advisors and dedicated professionals in the Graduate School.
  • Hired a new Senior Training Coordinator who has launched efforts focused on staff training, leadership development, mentorship, and onboarding.
  • Bolstered the CNS DEI Concentration for undergraduates and added additional courses and seminars that build skills and prepare students for the future.
  • Coordinated with the University as it renamed one of the college’s and campus’slargest academic buildings, the Physics, Math and Astronomy Building, and participated in contextualization discussions for this and other buildings.
  • Amplified stories and experiences from all populations including those underrepresented in our disciplines.
  • Hosted the New Equations Community Discussion Series where invited guest authors help our community explore the intersection of science and identity, as well as the inequitable histories upon which our disciplines have been built.
  • Provided multiple learning opportunities pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including:


  • Offer a new Equity in STEM Signature Course beginning in the 23-24 academic year.
  • Work closely with University Leadership on the Sweatt v. Painter Commemorative Gallery Space at the geographic center of our college buildings.
  • Continue a college-wide focus on improving mentoring, ensuring systems are in place to provide graduate students and postdocs, as well as staff and undergraduates, consistent and positive mentoring.
  • Expand and improve training, professional development and toolkits for employees, including by partnering with STEM education and third-party experts, to continuing reading groups and our event series with authors to holding Science Sprint events that engage students in problem-solving around equity-related challenges at UT and in society.

We are continuing and expanding upon recruitment and retention efforts aimed at improving the way our college supports people with marginalized identities.


In particular, we are working to:

  • diversify our faculty and support faculty who demonstrate past or potential contributions to DEI within their research, teaching and/or service, including by developing postdoc-to-faculty bridge programs and assuring dedicated resources for new hires.
  • extend a welcome mat to students from historically marginalized populations through: coordination of cross-campus recruitment events; expansion of summer research opportunities for prospective undergraduate and graduate students; reevaluation of application practices (such as standardized tests and application fees) that may unnecessarily stand in the way of qualified and talented students seeking admission; and allocating appropriate resources for fellowships, scholarships, new hires and affiliated outreach efforts.

Examples of Progress:

  • Hired a new Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator in CNS Undergraduate Education who will connect to prospective students and communities with historically excluded identities in STEM Education and support bilingual recruitment strategies.
  • Partnered with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost for the Provost Early Career Fellowship in partnership with the Departments of Integrative Biology, Neuroscience, Astronomy, and Molecular Biosciences.
  • Initiated multiple efforts to attract, recruit, and employ a diverse faculty and/or faculty who demonstrate past or potential contributions to DEI within their research, teaching and/or service.
  • Reevaluated standard admissions practices with equity implications, such as the GRE requirement for graduate program admissions. University-wide the GRE was suspended as a requirement during the pandemic, and five departments have successfully instated permanent waivers.
  • Partnered with colleagues in the Jackson School of Geosciences for recruitment events that serve students with historically excluded identities from the STEM fields.
  • Saw departments and individual units take steps forward related to recruitment and retention, such as:
  • Partnered with Austin Community College on new co-enrollment opportunities in biotechnology training and in STEM teaching certification.

Priorities for the future:

  • Further enhance summer research opportunities for undergraduates and prospective graduate students from underrepresented populations in the mode of the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences’ program.
  • Expand new partnerships with Austin Community College and with the Dell Medical School on pathway programs to support career success for CNS students from underrepresented populations.

A note on diversity, equity and inclusion themes interwoven in our stategic plan.

Being a welcoming community—where students, faculty and staff of many backgrounds experience belonging and the ability to thrive—is the foundation for all we hope to achieve as a college. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) priorities are therefore woven throughout our plans for the College of Natural Sciences. 

Longstanding experiences of inequality in society and in sciences pose real challenges towards our achieving our goals. Our college-wide plan to improve equity, inclusion and belonging requires working together on a variety of fronts to promote a college climate that treats every person with dignity, respect and care; improving transparency through dedicated efforts related to institutional accountability; and better addressing representation through the recruitment, retention and support of individuals from populations historically marginalized in the sciences.

The College's overall strategic planning has involved a listening process with faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders. In 2020, an Action Team made up of faculty, staff, students and stakeholders from underrepresented populations in our community helped to synthesize recommendations related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The college is moving forward with core strategies in these areas:

Questions, thoughts and concerns about this area for action, or others in the college’s strategic plan, may be directed to Senior Assistant Dean for Strategy and Equity Initiatives Melissa Taylor: Melissa.Taylor@cns.utexas.edu.