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What exactly is Texas A&M's $25 million plan to improve diversity on campus?

Texas A&M
Posted at 6:33 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 14:13:14-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Over at Texas A&M University, a $25 million plan to improve campus diversity has received mixed reactions across the Aggieland community.

While Aggies and faculty alike have voiced their support, some believe, this financial investment should only be viewed as the beginning.

According to former President Young’s 45-person commission, Texas A&M still falls short in actively matching with the state's current demographics.

Texas A&M began admitting women and African American students roughly 60 years ago. However, when reviewing their enrollment today, A&M has only beat the national average in their undergraduate populations by a small margin.

To illustrate, the average undergraduate enrollment for White students at A&M is at 59%, just 2% beneath the national average of 61%. Furthermore, Black students at A&M, only make up 3% of their undergraduate population; the national average is currently 4.3%.

However, one exception to this performance is their enrollment of Hispanic and Latinx undergraduate students. Reaching 25% of their total enrollment, Texas A&M actually ranks third when compared to 58 other universities of similar size. Regardless, this isn't to say that Hispanic and Latinx faculty don't hold their hesitations to the $25 million plan as well.

“I do believe their [the Commission] hearts are in the right place, in terms of moving this forward, but reports that come out of institutions should always be met with some form of skepticism, we should always be cautiously optimistic about,” shared Felipe Hinojosa, a history professor in Latino and Mexican American Studies at Texas A&M.

While reservations certainly exist, it should be noted that Texas A&M's graduate programs rank in the Top 10 for Ph.D's awarded to Hispanics, and in the Top 12 for African-Americans.

So what exactly is this $25 million dollar plan and how will it help?

According to their press release, the plan aims to expand the student pipeline, increase regents scholar program and national recognition scholarships, establish pathways-to-doctorate fellowships, growing ACES (Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship) fellows faculty program, and recognize Aggies leading by example and the success of former students of color.

On that note, Texas A&M has stated this $25 million plan is actually in addition to the $10 million per year scholarship fund created by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in 2020.

"These actions, together with activities and other investments underway, will help Texas A&M University better recruit, welcome and serve more members of underrepresented groups in fulfillment of our land grant mission." their diversity plan reads.

While only time will tell what's to come, one thing is still very much for certain. Despite the work ahead and criticism already faced, Texas A&M is still filled with enthusiastic student leaders, ready, to make the difference.

"I think university leadership has truly committed to elevating us beyond a surface-level dedication to excellence, integrity, and respect for our underrepresented peers and colleagues. I believe the focused action plan highlighted by Interim President Junkins, hones in on initiatives that will have an immediate, and significant impact on our climate, students, staff, and faculty." member of the Commission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kristina Ballard, shared with 25 News.