Members of the AgriLife community:
As I mentioned in a message last week, the recent events and tragedies have caused many of us—myself included—to think deeply and reflect on our lives and our roles. This also includes the role and responsibility of Texas A&M AgriLife. Fulfilling our land-grant mission is at the heart of it—reaching every Texan to improve their lives through education, research, extension and service. It will take the entire AgriLife community made up of individuals with diverse experiences, ideas and points of view to make this vision a reality.
Words of support and encouragement are not enough. We must turn sentiments into meaningful action. Today, I want to share our commitment to an environment that welcomes all perspectives and prioritizes diversity and inclusion across programs and activities. We have already begun work on a number of initiatives:
- We are launching a postdoctoral fellowship program that will increase diversity among our research community. This will supplement what is offered through the Accountability, Climate, Equity and Scholarships (ACES) Fellows Program and will be a collaborative effort with the Texas A&M Office of Diversity.
- We have partnered with the Department of Multicultural Services on the implementation of a certificate in cultural competency which will integrate programs, courses and service learning into a certificate program to help students prepare for participation in the modern global economy.
- In a joint effort with Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, we have trained the first cohort of AgriLife Extension employees to help communities engage in civil dialogues around racial issues as part of the Coming Together for Racial Understanding Initiative from the Southern Rural Development Center and the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy.
- We have launched an AgriLife Research Seed Grant Initiative in social and behavioral sciences. Priority areas for this research initiative include a focus on reaching and improving the health of underserved populations.
- We are creating a Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Board on Inclusive Excellence. Members will help guide future actions regarding inclusive excellence and diversity. Additional details will be shared soon.
We are committed to change, and we also realize that we still have far to go and much to learn. That is why we need to hear from you. Recognizing that we do not have all the answers, we ask for recommendations as to what more we can do. Please share your ideas, thoughts and feedback through this anonymous online submission. We are listening.
Our communities are in need of healing and we have an opportunity to take action to improve lives not only here in Texas, but across the nation and the world. I hope you will join me.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research