Equity Advocacy
Equity Advocacy

The College for Health, Community and Policy is prioritizing an initiative to create a college-wide strategy and infrastructure with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. Many departments within the college currently offer coursework and programming to prepare students for an increasingly diverse and global workforce; the initiative. Below is a detailed report which describes how HCaP is addressing this initiative.

In January 2020, the College for Health, Community and Policy (HCaP) was formed. There is no historical record of inclusion or equity efforts at the college level. In spring 2020, there was an inventory of existing diversity and inclusion plans, guidelines and/or programs. The results are summarized at the end of this report, but suffice it to say that there is no department level strategy or infrastructure. While there are some programs and initiatives, it is quite uneven. Social Work and Public Administration appear to have the most solid footing—with plans drafted since the inventory was taken (for self-study purposes).

HCaP recently drated by-laws, which include a standing diversity and inclusion committee. This committee will include one staff or faculty member from each HCaP department. This committee will be charged with developing the College’s strategy and infrastructure, to be presented to college leadership and then HCaP faculty. This will be our largest initiative for the coming academic year—to create our strategy and infrastructure. We will also be looking to diversify our faculty and graduate students, using strategic hiring initiatives and recruitment programs, respectively.

A summary departmental plans for the year includes:

Criminology and Criminal Justice

In conjunction with our National Honors Society, Alpha Phi Sigma, we will be hosting online events for our student body that will involve panels with local leaders to discuss issues of race, ethnicity, crime and justice.


Ying Huang co-authored an op-end on policing related violence. Kara Joyner has a grant and manuscript addressing contextual influences on health for sexual minorities. Lloyd Potter has advocated for redistricting that does not bias against minorities (in his role as State Demographer). Rogelio Saenz publishes and volunteers in areas focused on diversity and inclusion, particularly—right now—in the area of COVID disparities. Corey Sparks co-authored some work with Saenz on racial disparities in unemployment, while Joachim Singelmann led a group of students on an op-ed concerning the disproportionate numbers of minorities and women on the COVID front lines. Johnelle Sparks published with a doctoral student on barriers to health among adults with minoritized identities (sexual and/or racial minorities). And, Rene Zenteno participates in several institutional programs and associations promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at UTSA. In short, each demography faculty member is working on at least a single project related to diversity, equity and inclusion.


Dr. Shelby Scott’s research lab focuses on diverse couples and families, with a focus on LGBTQ+ families and the intersection with race/ethnicity. She was recently awarded one of the UTSA INTRA grants to study transgender romantic relationships. Dr. Scott also created curriculum and facilitated
an 8-session antiracism group with an international group of academic women over the summer. Finally, Dr. Scott was selected this summer as one of the American Association of Medical Colleges’ 2020 Health Equity Call for Research awardees. As part of this award, she will be given 12-month unlimited access to the AAMC Consumer Survey of Health Care Access data to publish manuscripts on women and healthcare. As a department, they have designed a lecture series for the coming year that focuses on Latinx psychology.

Public Administration

The department created a syllabus statement to be included on all syllabi. Their selfstudy (due September 2020) includes voluminous material on how DEI is integrated into every course. They have integrated Soliya—virtual matching of students from five different countries—in their civic engagement
capstone course.

Public Health

This is a brand-new department and, as such, does not yet have a history of activity or a DEI plan. Sara Oswalt, the new department chair, has served on the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board as the representative from Chairs’ Council and encourage support of/attendance at University initiatives/events.

Social Work

In summer 2020, the Social Work faculty collectively created the Antiracism Collective, which shares a resource list with faculty, staff, students, and the broader community to assist with efforts toward creating an antiracist environment at UTSA. The aim of the UTSA Social Work Department Antiracism Collective is to assess and accelerate UTSA Social Work Department’s integration of antiracist praxis (theory, reflection, action) into all aspects of the department and department’s work in order to support our mission.


Ray Swisher is the incoming Chair and intends to pursue inclusive excellence leadership training. He has already completed an allies training but that was targeted at faculty (at his former institution) and he wants to take the next step to learn about inclusive excellence leadership at the Chair or administrator level. The Department of Sociology will also explore possibilities of a hire as part of the Advancing Academic Excellence through Accelerating Faculty Diversity Hiring Program (FDP).

In sum, there is uneven attention to diversity and inclusion. The HCaP D&I Committee should help strengthen the departments plans and infrastructure. By this time next year, I would hope that we have an HCaP D&I plan, as well as department level plans.