A Message from President Denise M. Trauth
February 1, 2021
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Every February, our country unites to celebrate Black History Month and the collective historical accomplishments of Black Americans. It is a time for learning and reflection. It is a time to honor African American heritage and culture, and lift up the contributions of Black people to not only change history, but to make it. At Texas State University, many of our students, faculty, and staff are working together to host a variety of activities and recognitions to celebrate Black History Month. Be sure to monitor the Black History Month 2021 website for more information to come.
This is also a time to reflect on initiatives implemented by Texas State to improve racial equality in the pursuit of justice and equity. Texas State has relied on input from our diverse community of students, faculty, and staff to implement initiatives that enhance diversity, equity, inclusion, and access on our campuses. During the summer of 2020, we worked with our university community to hold three listening sessions with students, faculty, and staff of color; a university-wide Day of Reflection and Solidarity to recognize and acknowledge, in part, the challenges, grief, and struggles we were collectively experiencing in our world, nation, and university community following the death of Mr. George Floyd; and two town halls to facilitate important conversations on topics of race, transgenerational trauma, justice, and law enforcement.
Actions directly resulting from those discussions include a task force working to rename two buildings and name two streets on the Texas State San Marcos and Round Rock Campuses after distinguished members of the Texas State family who are from the Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities; a task force committee considering mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training for faculty and staff; and a partnership with Life Anew, an independent organization to guide Texas State through the process of building long-term, equitable relationships across the university. These most recent actions join a list of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access initiatives implemented over the past two years, including a major reorganization effort which centralized diversity, equity, inclusion, and access units to amplify the work being done; updating the Council for Inclusive Excellence membership to bring key leaders together to provide input and guidance; and creating programs and resources that support the recruitment and promotion of faculty and staff of color.
I am proud of the progress we have made, but we have more work to do. Questions about removing the names of Ms. Sallie Beretta and/or Dr. John Flowers from buildings on the San Marcos Campus have arisen in our listening sessions, town halls, and naming task force discussions. Today, I write to you to say that the time is now for us to move beyond these conversations and to fully research these complex issues to inform possible actions. This will involve a two-step process.
Step 1: I have appointed a group of scholars from the Departments of History, Political Science, and Sociology, and the University Libraries to conduct scholarly analyses of the historical contexts of the lives and careers of Sallie Ward Beretta and John Garland Flowers. Through this scholarship, they will layout the facts surrounding these complex issues. These analyses will inform step two.
The members of this Scholars Task Force are:
Dean Mary Brennan, College of Liberal Arts, Task Force Chair
Dr. Audwin Anderson, Department of Sociology
Dr. Ron Brown, Department of History
Dr. Dwonna Goldstone, Department of History
Dr. Jeff Helgeson, Department of History
Dr. Paul Kens, Department of Political Science
Ms. Margaret Vaverek, University Libraries
Dr. Ken Ward, Department of Political Science
Dr. Dwight Watson, Department of History
Step 2: I will seek nominations of faculty, staff, students, and alumni and then appoint a broad based task force to review the analyses and make recommendations as to whether the names of Ms. Beretta and/or Dr. Flowers should be removed from these buildings.
It will take all of us working together to build the inclusive and equitable Texas State that all Bobcats deserve.
Denise M. Trauth