Diversity Association Revived at UHD
By Mike Emery
Diversity officers from more than a dozen state institutions of higher education converged on the University of Houston Downtown (UHD) for the summer Texas Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (TADOHE) meeting June 26 and 27.
The event marked the return of the organization (a chapter of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education), which had been dormant for several years.
“The importance of your roles at your respective institutions cannot be understated,” said UHD President, Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz during his meeting address. “And the importance of meetings like this one can’t be undervalued.”
President Muñoz, a former diversity officer himself, spoke to attendees on the second day of the meeting. During his presentation, he acknowledged the challenges faced by those charged with ensuring diversity and inclusion on university and college campuses. Given recent national rhetoric regarding topics such as race and immigration, Muñoz stressed the need for well-informed professionals in higher education. He also emphasized the importance of a statewide organization aimed at advocating for students.
“You have to be able to contact colleagues and exchange ideas,” he said. “Partnerships between institutions are essential in addressing issues in the region.”
Among the outcomes of this first meeting of the revived TADOHE was identifying institutions to tentatively host future meetings, as well as an annual conference. Additionally, TADOHE’s new officers were elected. These leaders include:
Chair - Dr. Sherri Benn, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and director of Student Diversity and Inclusion at Texas State University
Vice-Chair - Dr. Stella Silva, manager of Diversity Initiatives in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at Texas State University
Secretary - Aliyah Beavers, director of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Houston-Clear Lake
Treasurer – Andrew Duffield, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for Tarrant County Community College District
In addition to Muñoz, guest speakers included Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of Insight Into Diversity Magazine; Dennis Kennedy, founder of the National Diversity Council; Dr. Jobi Martinez, UHD President’s Postdoctoral Fellow; and Dr. Darron Turner, chief inclusion officer and Title IX Coordinator for Texas Christian University. Additional presenters included Daniel Villanueva, UHD associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Registrar; Liza Alonzo UHD director of Alumni Relations and Special Events; Samuel Santos, UHD Dean of Students; and Linda Contreras Bullock, assistant dean of Student Diversity at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
“As one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation, UHD provided the appropriate foundation to convene our state leaders for diversity and inclusion to engage in contemporary issues and opportunities for diversity and inclusion in higher education,” Martinez said. “UHD provided the chapter with the resources needed to revitalize the chapter to organize and reinstate itself as a chapter of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. As a chapter, TADOHE now has the leadership and opportunity to support higher education leaders across the state, but to also elevate the state’s needs and opportunities to a national platform for discussion, evaluation, and support.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.