Texas lawmakers, DEI advocates speak out against UT's decision to terminate division

Some state and city leaders are fighting against the University of Texas's decision to terminate at least 66 employees.

They want the university to reconsider its terminations.

"The battle now is really just beginning," said Nelson Linder, the ​president of the Austin NAACP.

It started after UT said it would be closing down some programs in its Division of Campus and Community Engagement.

UT said associate or assistant deans will return to their prior full-time position and cut the remaining supporting positions to comply with Texas' ban on DEI programs, which Republican lawmakers argued was used as a tool to push liberal philosophies.

Dr. Brian Evans, the interim president of the Texas Conference of the American Association of University Professors, said he’s heard from at least 66 UT faculty members who said they received a notice of termination. He thinks that number could grow.


"They lost staff who provided the academic advising, the scholarships, connections with internships, counseling, health services, food pantries, and ways to connect with other students," said Evans.

The terminations came as a shock to advocates of DEI programs.

They say their expectations were set differently during the last legislative session because they were told no employees would lose their jobs over SB17.

"No, they will not lose their jobs. They will be, I assume, reassigned to student services," said House Rep. John Kuempel.

"This was a breach of trust," said Ron Reynolds, the chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. "We feel like we were hoodwinked, we were bamboozled, we were sold a build of goods. They made false promises, and we're calling them out on that."

They also said the faculty members who lost their jobs had pivoted to comply with SB 17 and no longer were DEI employees.

"We've had enough," said Linder. "We're going to win this battle. Make sure that this state does not violate the rights of the students and us as well, or parents, so they can be treated as human beings."

UT Dallas recently made a similar decision to let 20 employees go to comply with SB17.