As I reflect on our celebration of 50 years of inclusion and what this means for Texas A&M University, I recall when I came here in 1983, as an assistant professor, and the first tenure-track woman hired in the department of electrical and computer engineering. To get to that point, I benefited from the Civil Rights Act and experienced much change as a result of inclusion in programs across the nation and at Texas A&M. Inclusion opened the door for me because some overt barriers were eliminated, and also enabled me to have a diversity of classmates that enriched my education.
However, I am ever mindful of the fact that while many overt barriers have been removed, subtle attitudes and micro-aggressions remain, and there are others who still feel acutely the lingering effects of discrimination and marginalization because of their identity. One of the responsibilities of a research university is to ensure a welcoming and safe place for all – where students, faculty, and staff are affirmed for who they are and what they have to offer to the educational mission. After 50 years of effort, with many successes, 2013 is a time for us to reflect more deeply about our continued responsibilities to serve all of society.
The 50th Year of Inclusion Committee, led by the Office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, has worked with students, faculty, and staff and a number of campus offices, community leaders, and former student networks to assemble a number of hallmark events. Many of these hallmark events will allow us an opportunity to reflect, engage, and envision where we would like to see Texas A&M University in the future. I encourage all of us to not limit our dialogues to the spaces where these events are occurring, but to also have more dialogues in the classrooms, the research laboratories, the residence halls, the dining halls, at orientations, and other venues where we can continue to create a campus culture that is dynamic, committed, and open for reflection and growth. Our pursuit of excellence cannot be fully realized without our vision to diversify and globalize the Texas A&M community.
Karan L. Watson, Ph.D., P.E.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Regents Professor of Electrical Engineering