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June 6, 2023

Dear Cockrell School Students, Faculty and Staff,

In June, in addition to leaning into summer, we recognize and celebrate two important historical moments.

June 19th commemorates Juneteenth, which marks the anniversary of the day in 1865 when enslaved people of Texas were informed that they were free, more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation and more than two months after the conclusion of the Civil War. Monday, June 19 is a holiday for the university – the university will be closed and no classes will be held.

Anna Martinez, the president of the UT Austin Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and an honors student in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering expressed what Juneteenth means to her:

"To me, Juneteenth represents the beginning of progress. It was a small start, but a start nonetheless. Although Juneteenth would be followed by many more years of trials and tribulations, it truly goes to show the strength and perseverance of a people who chose to be greater than what their society thought they were capable of, and when you look at all that we as a people have accomplished today, you realize that everything our ancestors dreamed of is coming true." 

To mark Juneteenth this year, there are several celebrations you can attend. The Central Texas Juneteenth Parade and Festival will be held on Saturday, June 17. For an experience at your own pace and even closer to home, consider the campus Racial Geography Tour. More Juneteenth activities are likely to be added to our calendar as they are announced; keep an eye on it for new opportunities!

We also celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month in June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Cockrell School graduate students Brandon Bakka and Nikhith Kalkunte and professor Maura Borrego recently completed a report that analyzes the LGBTQ+ climate in the Cockrell School using insights from the 2021 school-wide climate survey. This report includes recommendations of things we can all do to help contribute to a more positive climate for all members of our community. In his own words. Travis Bouchard, an honors student in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering shared what Pride Month means to him:

"To me, Pride Month is visibility. In a world where Queerness is too often seen as a source of shame or something to hide, Pride Month is an unapologetic celebration of not just how we love others, but how we love ourselves. It’s a month to take pride in being part of a community that has refused to be silenced, fighting for a better and more accepting future. More importantly, it’s a reminder of the power of visibility. By refusing to shy away from my true self, I have the power to help those ahead of me, just as those before helped me."

There are several events celebrating Pride Month across our community that we encourage you to participate in.

On campus, you can sign up for and attend the two-part GSC Ally Toolkit Workshop. Part 1 of the workshop will be offered on June 20 and part 2 on June 22, both on Zoom from 1-3pm. Sign up through UTLearn (sign in with your eid, then search for “Ally Toolkit”). This training is a great introduction – I found it very valuable.

Waterloo Park is also hosting several events as part of their Pride in the Park celebrations. Check out the entire list here.

Finally, in traditional Austin fashion, the Austin Pride event will take place on August 12. Mark your calendar and plan to attend or sign up to volunteer.

As summer gets into full swing and we are all engaged in different things, we remind everyone in our community that you belong here. Every member of our community — whomever you are, wherever you are from and whatever you believe — is valued.

Christine Julien Signature

Christine Julien
Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Cockrell School of Engineering


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