New chief diversity and inclusion officer looks to build on environment of support at UHCL
Diversity on a college campus affords many educational benefits to students, including improved cultural and racial awareness, elevated critical thinking skills, and a higher level of community service. Adding equity and inclusion are key components to delivering on a wider promise of diversity to a campus community.
University of Houston-Clear Lake’s new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Brice Yates says achieving that is among his top priorities.
Yates, who worked in a similar role at University of California, Berkeley for 18 months before to coming to Houston in August, said he chose UH-Clear Lake because the position aligned with his research and professional experience in creating a culture of diversity and inclusion on college campuses.
He said his research specifically focused on cultural month celebrations at predominantly white institutions of higher education, particularly Hispanic Heritage Month and LGBT Month, which both intersect during the first two weeks of October.
“I’m looking at how to create an environment of support and inclusion looking through the lens of minoritized student identities,” he said.
“UHCL is classified as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution,” Yates continued. “I’ve worked at emerging HSIs and seeing the passion and engaging with institutions that enroll large numbers of minority students appeals to me. A strong foundation for DEI has been established at UHCL and I would like to the credit the work of the Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, especially for their work with students. Within my role I look forward to partnering and engaging with students, faculty and staff.”
As he begins work in his new role, Yates said he was hoping to engage with students by going to events, with the hopes of building rapport. “I want them to get to know me as much as I want to get to know them,” he said. “I want them to view me as a support and resource.”
For now, Yates said he’s working on establishing a university DEI webpage, and is working on creating content for workshop trainings to become available throughout the year.
“I’d like to talk about how to develop more effective allies on campus, how to engage with diverse students, and explore topics around accessibility and disability awareness,” he said. “I’d also like to create a committee around cultural awareness months and identities, and collaborate to plan events with other departments across campus. It’s my hope to bring us together as a campus community and create celebrations in which all areas of campus can participate.”
For more information about opportunities or events in UHCL's Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, go online.