The Board of Trustees voted to establish a $10 million endowment funding the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The endowment will provide permanent support to fund the DEI office and its initiatives.
Dr. Phil Schubert, president of the university, said that this endowment goes hand in hand with the university’s strategic plan by funding faculty recruiting and retention, closing the gap between retention and graduation rates for students of color and building a culture that celebrates and welcomes diversity.
“There are more goals than three, but they all kind of roll up to that,” Schubert said. “I think the endowment will help support that effort. It will help support [Anthony Williams] office. It will help support our efforts to recruit and retain faculty. And certainly it will help with direct scholarship assistance and some mentoring and leadership scholarships for students of color to achieve those goals.”
The money in the endowment was taken from an unrestricted portion of the university’s endowment. Whether or not the unrestricted endowment is assigned to a specific goal is up to the discretion of the Board of Trustees and, according to Schubert, this does not happen often.
“Over the years I’ve been here for now, closing in on 30, that hasn’t happened a significant number of times,” Schubert said. “But a handful of times, they will choose to take a portion of that unrestricted endowment and dedicate it for a particular purpose.”
Chief Diversity Officer Anthony Williams said that of the years he’s been at ACU, this endowment is something he is most proud of.
“This is my 27th year at ACU this spring and a number of things I’ve been proud of in the last two and a half decades, but this is one of the most,” Williams said. “When we say DEI, we’re really trying to focus on some real fundamental things: attracting more students of color and making sure they graduate, and I think we can do that just by creating a culture on campus that allows all students to feel they belong.”
To Williams, this endowment is far bigger than consistent funding for DEI initiatives.
“I think what this says to all students is that Abilene Christian is a place where we desire everybody to feel like they belong,” Williams said. “We are committed to doing our part, making our contribution to what I believe is a kingdom endeavor.”
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