NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

NSM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statements

The NSM Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee has given much thought in developing statements that embody our values and culture in the College and University. These statements are available on our NSM website under the “About: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” menu and are reproduced below.

  • NSM Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Statement Against Asian Hate and Hate Crimes
  • Statement on COVID and India

We hope that these statements will let our potential students, faculty, and staff, as well those currently here, know that we are aware, care, and are taking action. If you have input and/or you want to play a great role, we welcome you to contact any of the committee members listed at the end of this article.

NSM Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The University of Houston aspires to be a national leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are among the most diverse research universities in the country and a designated Hispanic-serving and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution.

The ethnic, racial, and religious makeup of our students is reflective of the diverse Houston community and is a bellwether of the future demographics of Texas and the nation. UH attracts and retains its diverse population of Texas natives and second- and first-generation immigrants by offering reasonably priced education and globally relevant programs.

Within this vibrant environment, the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics strives to create and disseminate knowledge and offer its students world-class STEM education. Like other human endeavors, science flourishes in environments that reflect our national diversity and in which all participants feel included; such environments also translate into a greater understanding and appreciation of science among the general public.

Our mission is to foster such an inclusive environment for open discourse in the natural sciences.

However, our work on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is far from over.

Representation of minority and female students in STEM fields has been historically low. This translates into low percentages of these groups pursuing well-paid, high-tech jobs in our city’s healthcare and energy sectors. The ethnic and racial makeup of our faculty does not yet reflect the makeup of our students, presenting challenges in effective mentorship and role model relationships.

Our accomplishments and mission are threatened by the continuation and resurgence of institutional racism in the U.S. and Texas, and the recent waves of xenophobia and renewed anti-immigrant sentiment. The persistent killings of unarmed citizens of color and the groundswell of the Movement for Black Lives remind us that the history of enslavement, exclusion, and genocide is deeply embedded in our culture and institutions.

Academia and scientific research are not excepted from this fact, and our role as faculty and staff of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is to confront these challenges with the understanding and empathy that transcends individual disciplines.

We are addressing these challenges in several ways.

  • First, we listen to the needs and concerns of our students, staff, and faculty, as well as to the nation’s and world’s leaders in advancing inclusion and equity.
  • Second, we reflect on our biases in teaching, mentoring, and hiring, and educate ourselves so that we can identify and challenge the biases in the society that surrounds us.
  • Third, we act to eliminate those biases through our own efforts and through the support of our alumni and local leaders in establishing programs designed to support research and professional development opportunities for Persons Excluded by Ethnicity or Race (PEERs).
  • Finally, we evolve.

In today’s global society, the issues of diversity, representation, and inclusion are not static, and staying on the vanguard requires constant re-evaluation of these targets and our progress toward them. A key part of this evolution is the examination of prevalent narratives about science and academia, recognizing that our story is incomplete unless we recognize and address the processes by which individuals are excluded. This shift in culture is essential to our College’s mission of striving for excellence in science and education, building world-class research programs, and fostering a culture of collaboration and inclusion.

Statement Against Asian Hate and Hate Crimes

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, there has been a noticeable rise in anti-Asian hate incidents. More recently, horrific attacks have been carried out on Asian-Americans, many of them elderly.

We strongly stand against Asian hate, Asian hate crimes, and any race-based aggression against Asian individuals.

We strongly stand with Asian students, staff, and faculty who are a vital and essential part of the UH community. Together, we make vibrant the mosaic of University of Houston, which is a recognized Asian-American and Pacific Islander-serving institution.

We strongly choose not to dismiss instances of racism but rather lift up and advocate for Asian members of our community.

We strongly choose to stand against actions and attitudes that attempt to minimize the humanity of Asian people.

Please stand with us recognizing the impact of Asian hate and that no instance of Asian hate is acceptable in our community.

Statement on COVID and India

To NSM Students, Faculty, and Staff who are natives of India, or have family in India, we want you to know we stand in solidarity with you. We can only imagine the hardship the catastrophic COVID situation in India is imposing on you.

We will keep you, your family, and loved ones in our thoughts and hope the situation improves soon. In the meantime, know we are here to support you so feel free to reach out to us if we can be of help.

NSM Faculty Committee for DEI

  • Jim Briggs and Donna Stokes, Associate Deans (Committee Co-Chairs)
  • Amy Sater (Chair), Biology & Biochemistry
  • Ognjen Miljanic, Chemistry
  • Thamar Solorio, Computer Science
  • Johnny Wu, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
  • Leah McAlister-Shields (NTT), Mathematics
  • Lisa Koerner, Physics