Is UT Violating State DEI Law?

University of Texas tower | Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion” appears to endure in some Texas higher education institutions despite such practices being banned by Senate Bill 17, which took effect on January 1.

An investigation by The Dallas Express has revealed numerous DEI mandates in job descriptions at the state’s flagship university, the University of Texas at Austin.

For example, in the job description for Technical Staff Assistant IV, Microelectronics Research Center, Cockrell School of Engineering, the post stated, “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential pillars for Texas ECE in living up to our values and achieving greater impact.”


Likewise, a preferred qualification for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Population Research Center is “Familiarity with strategies for promoting equity.”

Another Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences stated, “The Jackson School of Geosciences has a strong commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the geosciences …”

Some listings eschewed the contiguous DEI formula and substituted similar verbiage.

For example, the preferred qualifications for one Assistant Professor of Instruction for Special Education said that a candidate should reflect “our commitments to inclusive excellence, educational equity … and culturally diverse students and communities.”

In numerous other job descriptions within the College of Education, the college marked jobs with an “academic and research aspirations” designation, including “Advancing Equity.”

Mandates for experience advancing DEI were present at all levels within the institution and across many departments and subject fields.

Some of these mandates were posted in 2023 before Senate Bill 17 took effect. However, they remain open and receiving applications on UT’s website.

An Assistant Professor of Bilingual/Bicultural Education position posted in 2023 mandates that a successful candidate will “work collaboratively in a program and department dedicated to equity and social justice …”

Another opening for a Computational Biology Assistant also remaining on the website from 2023 said, “The College is interested in and values candidates who … have demonstrated a commitment to improving the diversity, equity and inclusivity of their academic communities.”

The University of Texas is not the only educational institution to potentially run afoul of Texas’s DEI ban.

Dallas College, one of DFW’s major community colleges, was recently exposed in a separate investigation by The Dallas Express for having a dozen job descriptions mandate DEI in various forms.

Senate Bill 17 “prohibits public institutions of higher education from establishing or maintaining DEI offices, officers, employees, or contractors that perform the duties of a DEI office.” The legislation also prohibits “requiring related training,” per a bill analysis committee report.

Senate Bill 17 provoked heated responses from all sides.

“Texas is one of the most diverse states in the nation, and our institutions of higher education should reflect that diversity,” said Texas Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) in a news release.

“However, the elevation of DEI offices, mandatory diversity statements, political litmus tests, and diversity training have the opposite effect and only further divides. DEI programs have become a million-dollar industry at taxpayer-funded institutions — yet they have made no progress advancing or increasing diversity,” added Creighton.

On the flip side, Texas Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) argued, “By stifling open discussions on race, gender, and social justice, this legislation denies our young minds the opportunity to understand the diverse world they live in and perpetuates the cycle of ignorance and discrimination,” as posted by the Texas Black Caucus.

The University of Texas and the Attorney General were contacted for comment regarding DEI at the institution, but neither replied before publication.

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