by Gene Bourgeois
Over the past several years, many college campuses have faced turmoil and tumult around questions of fairness, inclusion, equity, and diversity. Texas State University was among them.
Recognizing the distress, Texas State sought to reinforce its message and unwavering commitment to listening, improving, and acting so that this past does not define our future. We recognize that the path to inclusive excellence will be as varied as the faculty, staff, and students who make up our vibrant institution. Indeed, members of the university community have already forged pathways through crucial conversations, new staff positions, artistic displays, dialogue sessions, demonstrations, process improvements, poetry, music, and other forms of expression.
As a trained historian, I appreciate the strength and power of the written word that can reveal the thoughts of the author and others about important issues. Reading that work can provide a means to better explore, understand, and interpret the environment that helped forge and produce those thoughts. Reading that work can challenge preconceived notions or correct misunderstandings. Reading that work can better yourself.
So, when Miriam Williams and Octavio Pimentel, both professors in the Department of English, approached my office about an edited book collection to pave a new path forward on diversity and inclusion, I quickly agreed to the project.
Soon after, Miriam and Octavio posed four questions and invited members of the Texas State community to contribute chapters that fit the theme of healing and reconciliation. They asked:
How does diversity and inclusion at Texas State benefit teaching, research, service, and day-to-day activities on campus?
How would an even more diverse and inclusive Texas State benefit our students, our colleagues, and the future of this emerging research university?
What opportunities do we miss when we fail to make active and purposeful steps toward making all members of our community feel accepted and included?
What milestones do you hope the university will reach with your contributions and participation?
What follows are the eleven selected essays.
Autumn Hayes explores the concept of nepantla, an ancient term used to describe the feeling of being in-between two cultures. She explores how real life and real time connections between people can result in transformation.
Reflecting on his personal and professional journey, Scott Bowman advances a humble wish – the creation of an inclusive university with value, trust, and advancement. He couples that wish with a commitment to serve as the university’s special assistant to the provost for inclusion and diversity.
Charise Pimentel delves into critical literacy as a teaching approach that prepares teachers to become change agents in schools. She acknowledges the stress associated with challenging students’ core beliefs and describes the delicate dance of building critical consciousness in some students while engaging the critical consciousness of others.
Octavio Pimentel lays bare the subtle ways that some Texans refuse to acknowledge the state’s Mexican culture. He also explores how people of Latinx backgrounds openly embrace or seek to escape their heritage.
Evolving from over twelve years of friendship, Miguel A. Guajardo, Monica Valadez, Leticia Grimaldo, Genise Henry, and Karen Henderson share stories related to resistance and resiliency in their quests to become fuller human beings.
In their interview with Libby Allison, Aimee Roundtree and Miriam Williams explore the importance of recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and students in academic programs.
Amanda Scott describes the motivations of Generation Z in the context of cultivating a new activist paradigm that requires re-envisioning how we engage traditionally marginalized students.
Christine Norton and Toni Watt illuminate the challenges faced by college students who grew up in the foster care system. This conversation includes the perspectives of race, ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, poverty, first-generation status, and experiential trauma.
Scott Kampschaefer discusses the importance of diversity to campus culture and the differentiation in consequence that exists between attitudes of acceptance and tolerance.
Exploring the shaping of American sociocultural and academic landscapes, Samuel Saldivar examines the visibility, inclusion, and experimentation of Tejanos and their impact on those landscapes.
Sara Ramirez describes her experiences as a first generation, Mexican-American woman pursuing higher education and offers advice that may lead to a greater embrace of individual differences as well as an understanding of distortions resulting from a fear of differences.
I invite you to explore this generous collection and join me in thanking Miriam and Octavio for conceiving and undertaking this project. Alongside the grace and hope within these pages, there are lessons to be learned, stories to be heard, and assumptions to be questioned. Most importantly, perhaps your own path for service and care will emerge and find a home in the spirit of inclusivity at Texas State.
Dr. Gene Bourgeois
Dr. Gene Bourgeois is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas State University. As the university’s chief academic officer, he is responsible for the administration and oversight of the quality of the university’s academic instructional and research programs and other functions central to its academic mission. Prior to becoming the Provost, he served in a variety of administrative positions at Texas State, including: Associate Provost, Chair of the Department of History, Director of the Texas State Honors Program, Founding Director of the Texas State in England Study Abroad Program, and Founding Faculty Coordinator for the Texas State Residential Colleges. Dr. Bourgeois earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Louisiana State University and the degree of Ph.D. in History from the University of Cambridge.