NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KERA news and the Denton Record Chronicle are tracking the impacts of Texas' Senate Bill 17, the ban on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in higher education on schools, students and educators across North Texas.

UNT to dissolve DEI offices in response to new Texas law

Signage for University of North Texas

University of North Texas President Neal Smatresk announced to faculty and staff on Tuesday that the school is dissolving its Division of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access.

The decision is in response to a new state law banning DEI offices and activities at public colleges and universities. UNT is one of the first major schools to publicly announce plans for its DEI programs.

“Senior administrators and I are doing our best to create a plan that ensures we will continue to support all our community members’ needs and take advantage of the talented staff members currently within the division by working to reassign them throughout the university in ways that improve our academic community,” Smatresk wrote in a letter sent out Tuesday morning.

The dissolution will happen after Joanne Woodard, vice president for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access, retires on Oct. 1.

The IDEA division contains the offices of Title IX, Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which will be absorbed by the Division of Finance and Administration, as well as the Multicultural Center, Pride Alliance and diversity & inclusion offices.

In the release, Smatresk said the university is doing its best to create a plan to reassign IDEA staff throughout the university.

"We are thoughtfully considering how we reorganize the Multicultural Center, Pride Alliance, and all related programs that support our students’ engagement and success,” Smatresk wrote.

He said the university is working to ensure it complies with SB17 and continues to support students.

“As a university committed to the education of Texans, we will remain steadfast in living our values and serving our diverse community,” he wrote.

One of the values adopted by the university in February is “better together,” which encourages awareness and understanding, respecting diversity and supporting opportunities to remove barriers to equity and inclusion.

The University did not respond to a request for comment.