President's Message - Taking Pride at UHD
Dear UHD Community,
How wonderful it is for the University of Houston-Downtown to rank as the most diverse University in the region, located in the most diverse city in America. Our institution offers a robust variety of every demographic description: age, work experience, race, religion, ethnicity and beyond. During the month of June, Pride Month, we want to recognize and celebrate another important part of our society – the LGBTQIA community.
The University boasts a proud tradition of welcoming individuals of all backgrounds, but we do more than just "accept." We aspire to include and support all people, and we recognize that our ability as a community to welcome everyone regardless of our individual differences is what makes our institution and our community stronger. Inclusivity and supportiveness are goals we work daily toward fulfilling, and it is our mission to ensure that the wide spectrum of diversity is acknowledged, embraced and represented at UHD – from the professors in the classroom, to the students on our campus, to the staff who supports them and the many alumni who contribute to the growth of our region.
One shining example of the outstanding achievements of LGBTQIA Gators resides in Brandt Wild, who graduated in May and credits the faculty, staff and fellow students for his exceptional experience. Among his many accomplishments, he worked with Texas Rising at UHD, where one of the core missions is to promote equality and policies that end discrimination against LGBTQIA Texans. Through his involvement with the organization, he testified at the Texas Capitol in front of legislators against a bill aiming to ban transgender children in sports. Most recently, he was invited to join Mayor Sylvester Turner's LGBT Advisory Board. He was also featured in UHD News and in this month's edition of Outsmart Magazine.
He says, "UHD has such a diverse community that you can truly be from any walk of life and find a place here – whether that be finding support from the amazing staff and faculty, joining student organizations, or partaking in other opportunities made available through the University. Whoever you are and whatever you may be interested in, UHD's diverse and inclusive community allows people who put in the work to prosper."
I am heartened to see other great examples from our campus like earlier this month when Dr. Kristin Anderson held a conversation with KHOU about the importance of being an ally to the LGBTQIA community and simple ways to practice everyday inclusion.
The University has always supported our LGBTQIA friends and allies, and we remain committed to providing services that bolster an inclusive environment. Groups like Texas Rising at UHD and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance provide a safe space for likeminded Gators to gather, and our campus community can look forward to the return of TransUHD, a group for transgender students, this fall.
Further, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion empowers the University to build a more welcoming campus environment through programming and trainings aimed at all UHD Community members and by engaging in outreach and advocacy efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. The Gator Ally Program, housed within the Center, provides training to students, faculty, and staff who want to make themselves available as listeners and as advocates for LGBTQIA persons as well as confront discrimination and homophobia.
This month serves as a reminder that this institution of higher education values not only learning about but also celebrating the tremendous diversity of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. That's something we can all take pride in.
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown