Documents detail how Texas’ DEI ban is changing university campuses

In an update to lawmakers, university system leaders expressed worries about how the ban might affect crucial applications for federal funds.

Documents detail how Texas’ DEI ban is changing university campuses

Your donation to The Texas Tribune will help investigative journalism that impacts state policies and politics. It is the last week of our Spring Member Drive, and our newsroom relies on readers like you who support independent Texas news. Donate today.

In the most comprehensive picture yet of how Texas’ DEI ban has changed campuses across the state, recent communications with lawmakers reveal the range of steps university leaders have taken to comply with the law and keep billions in state funding.

University system leaders described their efforts in written responses to Sen. Brandon Creighton, the author of the DEI ban, after the Conroe Republican warned them they could lose their funding or face legal consequences if they weren’t following the law, which went into effect in January.

In documents obtained by The Texas Tribune and in public testimony before senators, leaders from all of Texas’ seven university systems said they have closed multicultural offices, fired or reassigned DEI staff and stopped requiring diversity statements, or letters in which job candidates in academia share their previous efforts to promote diverse learning spaces and help students of all backgrounds succeed.

Some described how they’ve changed their operations to comply with the law and continue supporting some students. Texas Woman’s University leaders said they opened a center for first-generation students after closing their DEI office. More than 50% of incoming students in the system are the first in their families to attend college.

A few system leaders said they did not need to make any major changes because they never had big DEI programs on their campuses. Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall said his schools had no DEI offices to begin with.

The documents also show the guidance administrators are giving staff on how to respond to diversity-related questions in federal grant applications without running afoul of the DEI ban.

Texas colleges get billions of dollars in federal grant money, which they depend on to pay for research. Securing these funds helps schools recruit high-quality faculty and build on their reputation; for some, they’re critical in their quest to elevate their status as research institutions.

Many federal grants require applicants to describe their efforts to make their fields more diverse or explain how their research benefits underserved communities.

In FAQs to support staff and faculty, University of Houston administrators offered some talking points to help them keep those grants in a post-DEI reality. Officials recommended emphasizing the school’s compliance with non-discrimination laws and their efforts to support low-income and first-generation college students.

Despite those efforts, university leaders have said it's been difficult to strike a balance between the DEI ban’s requirements and grant funders’ expectations.

“We’ve struggled with how to handle grants,” Daniel H. Sharphorn, the vice chancellor and general counsel of the University of Texas System, told lawmakers this month. “I don't know that we've learned enough to know what the impact is going to be.”

Texas Woman’s University provided similar talking points to address staff concerns about how the DEI ban might affect universities’ accreditation, a status that indicates schools offer quality education programs and allows their students to access federal financial aid. To get their accreditation recertified, which is required every 10 years, all public universities have to prove they are meeting an accrediting agency’s standards, which can include DEI requirements.

The primary agency for institutional accreditation in Texas, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, is one of the few accreditors that does not have a DEI-related standard, which means Texas colleges do not risk losing accreditation with that agency for complying with the DEI ban, said Rosalind Fuse-Hall, the accreditor’s director of legal and governmental affairs.

But Texas higher education institutions might still run into snags with other agencies that provide accreditation for specific college programs and do ask about schools’ DEI efforts, Fuse-Hall said.

In addition, some university systems explained how they’ve changed their training policies, revealing they’re taking different approaches to comply with the new law.

The University of North Texas System eliminated any voluntary DEI training it used to offer through LinkedIn. The system said in its written response to senators that it developed a program to scan voluntary training offerings for DEI-related keywords and automatically remove any that come up as a match.

Texas Woman’s University, meanwhile, continues to allow faculty to access professional development libraries that include DEI training modules, so long as participation in those trainings is “truly voluntary,” the school’s response said.

Lawmakers have yet to indicate whether they're content with the universities' responses but have previously said they're ready to pass more bills to bolster enforcement if they feel schools need to do more to comply with the ban.

The Texas Tribune partners with Open Campus on higher education coverage.

Disclosure: Texas State University System, University of Texas System, University of Houston and University of North Texas have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

We’ve got big things in store for you at The Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 5–7 in downtown Austin. Join us for three days of big, bold conversations about politics, public policy and the day’s news.

OTHER NEWS

26 minutes ago

Real Madrid set sights on 146,000-per-week Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa

26 minutes ago

DR Congo: Country facing crisis levels of hunger amid 'massive displacement'

26 minutes ago

Biden and allied Republicans are trying to rally GOP women in swing-state suburbs away from Trump

29 minutes ago

Marcus Smith shines as England punish Japan and former head coach Eddie Jones

29 minutes ago

Robert Lewandowski faces brutal reality at Euro 2024 to leave complicated Poland legacy

32 minutes ago

GNU | No time frame for President to appoint new cabinet

32 minutes ago

Joburg-bound traveller dies at King Shaka airport shortly before takeoff

32 minutes ago

TNPA CEO to face disciplinary action

32 minutes ago

Thousands stranded after another air-traffic control slowdown at Gatwick

32 minutes ago

LISTEN to the The Trial of Lucy Letby, Baby K: The jury are shown video footage of Lucy Letby being questioned on camera by police for the FIRST TIME

39 minutes ago

Coco Gauff to make Olympics debut: See the US women's tennis team roster

39 minutes ago

Justin Timberlake gives heartfelt speech in first concert after DWI arrest: ‘It’s been a tough week’

39 minutes ago

China’s mega online shopping festivals losing lustre, as Chinese tighten their belts

39 minutes ago

On a journey through Germany, the horror of the past lurks close to the surface

39 minutes ago

Deaths among Moroccan Pilgrims: Ministry Rules Out 'Abnormal Situation' at 1445 Hajj

39 minutes ago

Titans massacre woeful Warriors in landmark win

39 minutes ago

Man Utd send Everton stark warning in latest Jarrad Branthwaite transfer talks

39 minutes ago

INEOS register interest in PL rivals’ homegrown talent who could be ‘forced out’ for FFP boost

39 minutes ago

Youth plaintiffs in Hawaii reach historic climate deal

39 minutes ago

Turkey vs Portugal lineups: Predicted XIs, confirmed team news and injury latest for Euro 2024 today

39 minutes ago

Talks held: West Ham in contact to sign 30m striker for Julen Lopetegui

39 minutes ago

I lost my husband to a rare brain tumour at just 32 - these are the lessons I've learned as a widow and single mother (including how people will always be 'extremely invested' in my dating life!)

39 minutes ago

Westmead Hospital Sydney: Man is charged after allegedly stabbing security guards

39 minutes ago

How Nicole Kidman has hardly aged a day in 30 YEARS: Astonishing comparison shows how the star, 56, is still as youthful as ever after decades in the spotlight

42 minutes ago

Israeli national found dead after being shot in West Bank Palestinian town

46 minutes ago

How to watch Turkey vs Portugal for FREE: TV channel and live stream for Euro 2024 game today

47 minutes ago

'Held down, lied to, and told to be quiet': Readers' stories of giving birth in Irish hospitals

47 minutes ago

Belgium vs Romania: Euro 2024 prediction, kick-off time, TV, live stream, team news, h2h results, odds today

47 minutes ago

Fernando Da Cruz’ first words as Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach!

47 minutes ago

Cats concerns over Dangerfield ban, Hawkins injury

47 minutes ago

N.B. teen rescued after diving accident at local pool: ‘I just thank them for acting’

47 minutes ago

A wildfire almost broke out in N.S. during the heat wave. ‘Quick actions’ prevented it

47 minutes ago

Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick, Buffy actor James Marsters among headlines of Sydney’s Supanova pop culture event

47 minutes ago

Caprice Bourret has never felt sexier and boasts sex life is working wonders on her health

51 minutes ago

Missed the biggest stories of the week? Here’s a roundup

53 minutes ago

Video: Justin Timberlake breaks his silence following DWI arrest in The Hamptons during Chicago tour stop

53 minutes ago

Man Utd hold talks for 63m striker with Ratcliffe ready to double his wage

53 minutes ago

Government to sign off on Ireland's new EU commissioner with McGrath tipped for top job

53 minutes ago

Italian coast guard recovers 14 more bodies of shipwreck victims off Calabria, dozens still missing

53 minutes ago

England look ‘confused’ at Euro 2024 – Alan Shearer