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UT System creates its own “Rooney Rule” to promote diversity in senior leadership positions

AUSTIN—University of Texas System institutions must now include a candidate from an underrepresented group in the final round of interviews for all senior administrative positions, effective immediately.

“We want to ensure that qualified women and minorities have an opportunity to be considered for every senior level position. Making sure our leadership, faculty and staff reflect the changing look of Texas is not just about fairness. It’s also about effectiveness,” Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “Change starts at the top. We need administrators, campus leaders and faculty whom women and minority students can look to as role models and mentors and who better understand the students they’re serving and where they’re from.”

The UT System is now the largest institution of higher education in the nation to implement a system-wide policy to promote diversity among its senior leadership. McRaven modeled the new policy after the so-called “Rooney Rule,” which was implemented by the National Football League in 2003 to increase the number of minority candidates for head coaching jobs.

Across the UT System’s 14 institutions, 39 percent of students are Hispanic, yet just 11 percent of the faculty is Hispanic. Likewise, 7 percent of the student body is African American, compared to 4 percent of the faculty. And 53 percent of students are female, but only 42 percent of the faculty are women.

“Fairness and diversity go hand in hand with attracting the best and brightest to UT institutions,” McRaven said. “It is clear we can achieve much better results in driving equal opportunity and fairness in our hiring and promotion practice.”

Enhancing fairness and opportunity is one of eight “Quantum Leaps” proposed by McRaven in November as part of his vision to advance the UT System.

In addition to increasing diversity in senior leadership positions, the Quantum Leaps address many of the most significant challenges of our time, including building the nation’s next generation of leaders through core education in leadership and ethics; leading a brain health revolution by accelerating discoveries and treatments for neurological diseases; elevating the UT System’s role in national security; and driving unprecedented levels of collaboration between the UT System and K-12 education.

Just three months after proposing the Quantum Leaps, McRaven will give a status and progress report to the Board of Regents at its Feb. 10-11 meeting. McRaven is expected to present updates on the Quantum Leaps quarterly.

Ensuring that members of underrepresented groups are interviewed for senior level leadership positions won’t guarantee that more underrepresented candidates will be hired, but “it will put more women and minorities in a position for the selection committee to recognize the great talents that may have previously gone unnoticed,” McRaven said.

And in addition to requiring members of underrepresented groups to be interviewed for senior level positions, each UT institution also must submit a plan to close the gender pay gap within the next five years.

“While I’m pleased to see that our gender pay gap is significantly smaller than the national average in higher education, it ought to be zero,” McRaven said. “This is an opportunity to do the right thing.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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